Posts Tagged As: Vermont

Twelve States File Brief Supporting Transgender Coverage Under Civil Rights Laws

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect. (Click to enlarge.)

Twelve states, led by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, have filed a brief in federal court supporting the Obama Administration’s policies to include non-discrimination protections for transgender students and employees under current civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. The brief was filed in the Northern District of Texas, where Texas is the lead plaintiff on behalf of thirteen states in a lawsuit seeking to block the Obama Administration’s policies.

According to Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed:

“The bottom line is that the federal guidance at issue here threatens no imminent harm,” reads a draft of the brief provided to BuzzFeed News.

The filing is led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose brief adds that federal protections for transgender people are “strongly in the public interest.”

Ferguson elaborated on getting involved in the litigation in an interview with BuzzFeed News, explaining, “I think this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and I want to make sure the trial court has our perspective and the perspective of like-minded states.”

I haven’t seen a copy of the brief. Buzzfeed reports that the brief argues, “Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of our transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.”

States joining Washington’s brief are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, as well as Washington, DC. All but New Hampshire and New York cover gender identity in addition to sexual orientation under their non-discrimination laws. New York has recently extended gender identity protections under regulations implemented by the state’s Division of Human Rights, which enforces the state’s non-discrimination laws.

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Twelve other states have joined Texas in its federal lawsuit, and nine others have joined a a similar lawsuit being led by Nebraska. Two lawsuits in North Carolina seek to enjoin the Obama Administration from implementing its transgender protection policies.

Two others lawsuits have been lodged against North Carolina over HB2, which prohibits municipalities from enacting local non-discrimination ordinances based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, and which requires transgender people to use the rest room based on the gender listed on their birth certificates.

On Tuesdsay, Federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder set a November 14 trial date to consider whether the four North Carolina lawsuits should be tried jointly or organized in a different manner. But moments ago, the ACLU, which joined with Lambda Legal to represent plaintiffs in one of those lawsuits challenging HB2 has sent out a press release saying that Judge Schroeder will hear arguments on Monday, August 1, on a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its anti-transgender provisions.

Vermont Bans Conversion Therapy

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2016

Gov. Peter Shumlin speaking at a signing ceremony on the statehouse steps.

Gov. Peter Shumlin speaking at a signing ceremony on the statehouse steps.

Today, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill which prohibits licensed professionals from practicing sexual orientation change therapy on minors:

Shumlin said the practice was common when he was growing up. It was once taught in prestigious behavioral science programs, including the University of Vermont, though it’s not clear whether it is still used in the state today.

“The practice is not only archaic, but it’s wrong,” Shumlin said, as he signed the bill into law, surrounded by House and Senate leaders.

Conversion Therapy BanThe ban goes into effect on July 1. Similar bans are in place in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. Last week, the New Hampshire Senate passed a conversion therapy ban. That bill will go back to the House for reconciliation before heading to the Governor for her signature.

Battered and Bruised

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2012

Romney hangs in there again like a punch-drunk fighter staggering toward the finish of the sixth round (ooh look at me, I’m using a sports metaphor), picking up wins in six of the states up for grabs yesterday including a very hotly contested Ohio, where Santorum very nearly pulled off an upset. Romney did best in his home state of Massachusetts, and he did well in neighboring Vermont. He also did very well in the Idaho caucuses, where 23% of spudsters are fellow Mormons. There were no exit polls in Idaho, but in Arizona where Mormons made up 14% of the vote, they broke 96-4 for Romney on Feb 28.

Romney also did very well where he had very little actual competitors (Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot). Which is to say that he has done very well where he had the home field advantage (as did Gingrich) or where his most potent opponent was missing. Or Alaska.

Romney 32% 26% 62% 72% 24%
Santorum 29% 20% 18% 12% 40%
Gingrich 24% 47% 2% 5% 8%
Paul 14% 6% 18% 10% 28%
Romney 38% 28% 28% 40% 60%
Santorum 37% 34% 37% 24%
Gingrich 15% 27% 24% 8%
Paul 9% 10% 9% 25% 40%

Which goes to day that Romney is still having trouble closing the deal with Santorum racking up rack up wins in the more conservative middle bits of the continent. In Oklahoma, Santorum’s first place finish came in spite of Sen. Tom Coburn’s endorsement of Romney, while Romney actually came in third in North Dakota and just barely avoided that same fate in Oklahoma. And in Ohio, where Romney poured massive amounts of dollars into the race, he only managed to pull out a 1% win over Santorum in the bellwether state. But even there, he he lost among Evangelical, blue collar and rural voters, but won among those who were 50 and older.

But here’s the stat I find most telling: When Ohio voters were asked whether they’d support Romney in the general election regardless of who they voted for in the primary, 36% said they would not be satisfied with a Romney candidacy, versus 33% who said they’d reject a Santorum candidacy. In other words, Ohio Republicans are less willing to settle for Romney than Santorum.

Romney 404
Santorum 165
Gingrich 106
Paul 66

But this is a race for delegates, not popular votes. And whatever weaknesses that exist in Romney’s popular support within the GOP, he’s still by far the frontrunner in the delegate race according to CNN’s count, with more delegates than his opponents combined. But at only about half way through the primaries, Romney’s still a long way from the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Kansas, US Virgin Islands and Guam hold caucuses next week, followed by primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii the week after that. Which means that for Romney, the long slog continues. But for the other candidates in the field, the slog is even longer.

The idea behind Super Tuesday was to bring the nomination process into clearer focus. The only thing made clear yesterday is that GOP voters would still prefer another candidates. But that’s not the choice available to them. Which means that Romney will almost certainly be the nominee when all is said and done, but what is said and done before then will continue to be the story. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post put it, “For three guys who profess to not like the media very much, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are really making all our dreams of a long, unpredictable primary come true.”

Vermont Inn No Longer Hosting Weddings

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2011

The Wildflower Inn, which is being sued for violations to Vermont’s equal accommodations law after refusing to host a wedding reception for a lesbian couple, has updated their web page. Right after the banner advertising that “The beautiful Northeast Kingdom is the perfectly place to host your meeting, conference, wedding or special event,” they add, “We are no longer hosting weddings and special events.”

Vermont Hotel Owners Sued Over Violations Of Public Accommodations Law

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2011

A lesbian couple is suing a Vermont hotel owner after the hotel refused to host their wedding reception. Kate Baker and Ming Linsley say that the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT, abruptly turned them away after learning they are lesbians, an act which violates Vermont’s Fair Housing and Accommodations Act. That law prohibits inn, hotels, motels, and other establishments with five or more rooms from turning away patrons on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientations, among other reasons. The ACLU, which is handling the lawsuit, claims that at least two other couples have been turned away as well.

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population


Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Ten year anniversary of civil unions in the US

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2010

On July 1, 2000, Vermont’s civil unions law went into effect and for the first time, Americans could find a place in which their relationships had all the state law protections.

I remember this event. And at the time it was revolutionary, amazing.

After the disappointment in Hawaii, here was a state in which you could get married. Well… not married exactly, but close enough.

And, to me, this seemed like the solution. Let the straight folk have marriage as long as we got all the rights and privileges.

Of course, at the time I didn’t know that hospitals and schools and the local pool would just ignore civil unions, not knowing what they were or how to treat them. And we did not yet have the experience of people coming back from Canada and having their neighbors treat them differently because they were “really married.” But that all came later and at the time we were euphoric.

And we truly had good reason to be.

Vermont proved to the nation (though they were not listening well) that there was nothing to be feared from recognizing gay unions. The sky didn’t fall. Churches didn’t close. The state wasn’t destroyed by God’s wrath. And maple sap kept on rising in the trees. To folks other than us, this truly momentous occasion just wasn’t all that exciting.

And this lack of dramatic consequence no doubt played into the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court to recognize full legal marriage in 2003 and to the dedication of the legislators not to thwart that decision.

And this too wasn’t shocking. Oh, yes a President campaigned against gay marriage, and states across the nation panicked and passed amendments to “protect” marriage from being destroyed by gays, but in Massachusetts heterosexual marriage thrived.

And soon there states who decided that they wanted to be part of the movement. Some started with minor recognition and limited provisions, but soon there were votes in the legislature to advance to marriage without courts demanding it. And, fittingly, in 2009 Vermont’s legislature became the first to do so.

So here we are ten years later, and the world is a different place.

We have five states (and the District of Columbia) with full marriage equality: Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and New Hampshire. And we have two more states, New York and Maryland, which will recognize the same-sex marriage conducted in those full equality states.

And others are on their way. Five more states have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that have all of the state benefits, responsibilities, and rights as marriage: New Jersey, California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. And by Tuesday, Governor Lingle will decide whether Hawaii will join them.

And there are some states who do not yet provide equal treatment to same-sex couples, but who do at least give the state’s recognition to their union: Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, Rhode Island, and to a small extent Hawaii.

In ten years we have made tremendous progress. We’ve had many setbacks and disappointments, but it is astonishing how far we’ve come. And time is on our side; there’s no telling where we will be in another decade.

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

Dig In Vermonters!

Jim Burroway

September 1st, 2009

In honor of today being the day in which Vermont’s marriage equality law goes into effect, Ben & Jerry’s has temporarily changed the name of their “Chubby Hubby” flavor to “Hubby Hubby” in the Granite Green Mountain State:

“The legalization of marriage for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont is certainly a step in the right direction, and something worth celebrating with peace, love – and plenty of ice cream,” Ben & Jerry\’s CEO Walt Freese said in announcing the sugary switch.

The special flavor won’t be sold in stores (revising product labels takes 18 months). Instead, a special wedding-themed Ben & Jerry\’s truck will hand out free “Hubby Hubby” across Vermont today, and Vermont’s six Ben & Jerry stores will sell special “Hubby Hubby” sundaes. Sweet move.

Congratulations Vermonters

Timothy Kincaid

September 1st, 2009

Today the law goes into effect allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in the State of Vermont. In July 2000, Vermont became the first state to recognize civil unions and earlier this year it became the first state to recognize marriage by means of legislation rather than litigation.

An Unequal Flag For Unequal Citizens

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2009

This six star “Flag of Equal Marriage” represents the six states which have marriage equality, by order of their entry into the Union. The stars are arranged according to the order in which each state was admitted to the union, skipping over the states that do not have marriage equality. The six stars represent:

  • Connecticut – #5.
  • Massachusetts – #6.
  • New Hampshire – #9 (Effective Jan 1, 2010)
  • Vermont – #14 (Effective Sep 1, 2009)
  • Maine – #23 (Effective of Sep 14, 2009)
  • Iowa – #29

If this flag had been around in 2008, we would have seen California’ star (#31) go dark. There’s a move on right now to darken Maine’s star in November.

[Hat tip: David Schmader]

New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?

Timothy Kincaid

May 8th, 2009

New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.

The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples

1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009

The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:

1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009

The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage

1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009

The order in which legal marriages were first performed

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

And should New Hampshire\’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.

State Marriage Equality Update

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):

Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.

California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.

Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state\’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.

Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.

Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.

Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.

Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.

Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.

Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.

Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.

Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.

New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.

New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.

New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.

New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.

Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.

Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor\’s veto to pass marriage equality.

Washington – a bill to upgrade the state\’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.

West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.

Wisconsin – the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.

Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.

VT Senate Overrides Marriage Veto; House Vote Expected To Be Close

Jim Burroway

April 7th, 2009

The Vermont Senate just voted 23-5 to override Gov. Jim Douglas\’s (R) veto of the marriage bill which would allow for same-sex marriage. The vote now goes to the House, where the override vote is expected to be very close. You can hear the live-stream of the House debate and vote here. A two-thirds vote of those present and voting is needed to override a veto.

Queerty has an excellent rundown on the five people in the Vermont House who will decide which way Vermont will go.

Gov. Douglas Vetoes Vermont’s Marriage Bill

Timothy Kincaid

April 6th, 2009

Governor Jim Douglas has, as expected, vetoed SB 101, the marriage bill.

This legislation does not address the inequalities espoused by proponents. Regardless of whether the term marriage is applied, federal benefits will still be denied to same sex couples in Vermont. And states that do not recognize same sex marriage or civil unions will also deny state rights and responsibilities to same sex couples married in Vermont. This bill will not change that fact.

Vermont’s civil union law has afforded the same state rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage to same sex couples. Our civil union law serves Vermont well and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same sex unions. But I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

Douglas’ message does contain a bit of good news

On such an intensely personal issue as this, all members must do as their individual conscience dictates, with the best interest of their districts in mind. It is for those reasons that I have not sought to lobby members of my own party, or asked opponents to sustain my veto.

I am annoyed with Douglas to no end for his action. But this veto message is perhaps the best we could hope for; it nearly invites the legislature to overturn his veto and makes promises of future support.

Now let’s hope that we can corral the votes needed in the House to reinstate Marriage.

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