Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for March, 2010

Fact Checking the Family “Research” Council Straw Man Argument

Jason Cianciotto

March 13th, 2010

In response to a Washington Post article about the economic benefits of same-sex marriage in DC, the Family Research Council (FRC) provides a classic example of how right-wing organizations manipulate data and statistics to suit their anti-LGBT positions.

Here’s the quote:

When same-sex weddings kicked off in D.C. yesterday, the city wasn’t seeing anything but dollar signs. In an absurd article in today’s Washington Post, reporters tried to argue that counterfeit marriage could be the economic salvation of the city’s economy. In a region with 12% unemployment, local officials claim that redefining marriage “will create 700 jobs and contribute $52.2 million over three years to the local economy.”

Not so fast, says FRC. The last census counted 3,678 same-sex partner homes in D.C. Assuming that number has stayed roughly the same, then the 150 who applied for marriage licenses yesterday would amount to a whopping four percent of the local homosexual population–hardly the stuff of economic recovery. For the Post’s $52.2 million projection to come true, all 3,678 of those D.C. couples would have to get married and spend over $14,000 per wedding. (I don’t know about you, but my wife and I spent a LOT less!) These “marriages” (which have yet to meet financial expectations in other states) may make a fast buck in the short term, but they will do nothing but drain the economy down the road. Consider the massive health care expenses incurred by taxpayers every year to cope with the diseases spread by homosexual behavior. According to the Kaiser Foundation, federal funding grew to more than $18 billion in 2004 to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over half of all U.S. infections are in men having sex with men! That means taxpayers spend roughly $10 billion a year treating the diseases caused by a behavior celebrated in same-sex “marriage.” So much for economic development!

Not so fast FRC.

Yes, according to the Washington, DC Census Snapshot published by the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 3,678 same-sex couple households in the district, and the Associate Press did report that 150 same-sex couples applied for licenses on the first day same-sex marriage became legal there. This is about all that is factually correct in FRC’s statement.

FRC’s claim that the 150 couples represent “four percent of the local homosexual population” is a classic manipulation used by the religious right and discredited “researchers” like Paul Cameron. They take an estimate of one portion of a minority population and pretend that it is generalizeable to the population as a whole. In this case, the number of same-sex couple households willing to self-identify in the Census is not equivalent to the total population of lesbian, gay, or bisexual DC residents, which according to the Williams Institute is approximately 33,000.

Even more importantly, it is laughable for FRC to base its argument on the number of couples who applied for licenses on the first day. The Washington Post article references another Williams Institute report, which estimates that 2,000 same-sex couple in DC would marry over the next three years. In addition, another 12,500 couples are expected to come from out of state to get married. This is a more complete picture of the estimates used to create the projection of 700 new jobs and $52.2 million in revenue, but FRC simply ignores this information.

Where to begin with FRC’s last argument about same-sex marriage being a long-term drain on the economy because of “diseases spread by homosexual behavior?”

We could cite CDC data on transmission rates caused by “heterosexual behavior.” We could also estimate federal funding spent on prevention efforts that address the damage caused by social, and familial environments created by FRC. As they say, so much for economic development!

However, it would be a waste of time to feed into FRC’s “straw man” arguments.

They have no interest in examining real facts. Nor do they see the folly in their position against allowing same-sex couples access to an institution that fosters monogamy as well as mutual caring and support. As so many articles and special reports on Box Turtle Bulletin have illustrated, there is no place for scientifically supported facts in the anti-gay playbook.

Census to Release Marriage Information

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2009

We reported that the President was looking into the possibility of counting same-sex marriages in the 2010 census. Now it’s official: (WaPo)

The Census Bureau will for the first time publicly release the number of gay marriages reported in a decennial census, as it plans to release raw data about same-sex relationships in the 2010 headcount, according to new guidelines released today.

The decision reverses a Bush-era policy that prohibited the release of the data. In a legal opinion published last week, Commerce Department lawyers concluded that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act does not prohibit the Census Bureau from publicly releasing the data, contrary to the conclusions reached by Bush administration lawyers.

It appears, however, that the data will be “released” but not “counted” so as to be compliant with Congress’ Defense of Marriage Act. Evidently there is no assumption that DOMA will have been reversed any time before 2010 or 2011.

Continuing current policy, the new guidelines state that software used by Census enumerators will recode answers given by same sex-partners who mark their relationship status as “husband or wife,” to “unmarried partner.” But then, in late 2011, Census officials will for the first time release the raw state-by-state data on same-sex couples that marked their relationship status as “husband or wife.”

Statisticians (and politicians) need not wait until 2011 for census information about same-sex couples.

The Census will first report same-sex marriage data later this year when it releases the 2008 American Community Survey. The results of the annual housing and population survey will include unedited responses regarding relationship status.

This is all good news. And a great step. And will inject valuable information into the national discourse. And for this moment we celebrate.

But if we step back a moment to look at the big picture, we see same-sex couples who have legally married in the eyes of their state, their church, their families, and their communities who truthfully report this to their government, only to have that government change their answers. And considering that the purpose of a census is to provide accurate information so as to allow for informed decision making, it is hard to fathom the logic of beurocrats and politicians deliberately deceiving themselves just so that they may refuse to acknowledge what their constituents are trying to tell them.

Some day we will all look back and marvel at the blatant discrimination with which our nation has abused its gay and lesbian citizens.