Author archives: Peter Sprigg

In the Military, Racial Integration and Sexual Liberation Are Not the Same Thing

by Peter Sprigg

October 22, 2010

Mark Thompson has posted a piece on Time magazines Swampland blog regarding the possible overturning (which he considers inevitable) of the current law against homosexual conduct in the military.

Such a radical change in military policy is hardly inevitable. Legislation to repeal the law is on life support following last months Senate vote to block it, and Judge Virginia Phillips muddled ruling that the law is unconstitutional ignored so much existing precedent that it is unlikely to be upheld.

Thompson, however, has delved into the archives of military history and relates findings about how African Americans were integrated within the armed forces without major difficulty. He concludes that the integration of homosexuals would take place just as smoothly.

One key difference, of course, is that blacks had long been eligible to serve in the military, but had served in segregated units. In contrast, homosexuals have always been considered ineligible for military service at all. (The popular misnomer Dont Ask Dont Tell misleads many into believing that active homosexuals are currently welcomed by the military as long as they stay in the closet. The truth is the oppositethe 1993 law mandates, with very limited exceptions, the discharge of any servicemember who has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts.)

Furthermore, Thompson simply assumes the answer to two critical threshold questions:

1) Is being gay like being black?

2) Is sexual conduct relevant to military effectiveness?

The logical answer to #1 is no. Homosexuality is a behavioral characteristic; being black is a superficial matter of skin color. The racial integration of the military was successful precisely because it proved that the behavior of black soldiers did not differ from that of whites. But with homosexuality, a difference in behavior is what defines the issue. Do not be fooled by vague references to sexual orientation as though it were an innate characteristicwhat homosexual activists now seek is the right to continue engaging in homosexual acts while in the military .

Homosexual activists compare sexual orientation to race in order to obscure the important differences between sexual attractions, behavior, and self-identification. Only the attractions are, like race, involuntary; but none of these elements of sexual orientation are (like race) inborn, immutable, innocuous, and in the Constitution. The 1993 law which homosexual activists seek to overturn is focused on homosexual conduct, and treats attractions or self-identification as relevant only because they are evidence of a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.

So does the military have a legitimate interest in regulating the sexual conduct of its members? The answer has always been yes, with respect to heterosexual conduct as well as homosexual. Adultery, for instance, remains a crime in the military, at a time when the civil law has long since become indifferent to it. As Congress found in 1993, high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion … are the essence of military capability, and there is no doubt that sexual conduct can threaten those standards and harm that capability.

Sexual tension, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are problems that exist among heterosexuals in the militarybut those problems would increase if homosexuals were allowed to serve, because it would be impossible to separate homosexuals the way that men and women are separated in their most intimate settings (showers, sleeping quarters, etc.). Increased health problems among homosexuals (in particular, dramatically higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV among men who have sex with men) would pose a direct challenge to military readiness.

The analogy to the racial integration of the military, even if it had any validity, would apply only to the concern that homosexuality in the military would damage recruiting and retention of personnel. But those are only two out of the nine likely negative consequences of repealing the current law that were identified by Col. Robert Maginnis in the FRC booklet Mission Compromised. The others are:

  • Damage to unit effectiveness.
  • Health consequences with high cost.

  • Threats to freedom of those who morally object to homosexuality.
  • Special protections for homosexuals.
  • Taxpayer-funded benefits to homosexual partners of servicemembers.
  • Possibility of costly new living arrangements to protect privacy.
  • Changes to military law and regulations regarding sexual offenses.

The argument that, as the gay newsmagazine The Advocate recently declared on its cover, Gay is the New Black, is one that most blacks resent, and that simply cannot stand up to serious scrutiny.

Why Would Republican Leaders Address the Lincoln Was Gay Crowd?

by Peter Sprigg

September 21, 2010

Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Pete Sessions have come under criticism recently (including from FRC President Tony Perkins) over their decision to help the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) raise money to elect pro-homosexual candidates by speaking at an LCR event on September 22. Those who bought tickets to the event were clearly told that the proceeds benefit LCR PAC.

The Log Cabin Republicans have been at the forefront of trying to mainstream radical homosexual activism within the Republican party. They have tried to perpetuate (and Cornyn and Sessions seem to have fallen for) a myth that they are faithful Republicans who only have a small quibble with conservatives on issues involving homosexuality. But LCRs refusal to even support George W. Bush for re-election in 2004 is but part of a large body of evidence that LCR is far out of the Republican mainstream.

In fact, this might be a good time to remind people why the group call themselves Log Cabin Republicans in the first place. The LCR website says, The name of the organization is a reference to the first Republican President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who was born in a Log Cabin. President Lincoln built the Republican Party on the principles of liberty and equality.

However, there is a double entendre to the name. Homosexual activists also recognize it as an allusion to the fanciful but persistent theory that Abraham Lincoln himself was gay. For example, when presidential candidate Bob Dole returned a campaign contribution from the LCR in 1995, one prominent Log Cabin Republican, W. Scott Thompson, declared that homosexuals should be welcomed in the party, given that the founder was gay.

Supporters of the Lincoln was gay theory usually cite the well-documented fact that for several years, he shared a bed with a man named Joshua Speed. Anachronistically, they project 21st century concepts of gay life and behavior back into the 19th, ignoring the fact that sharing a bed with a same-sex roommate, with no sexual implication, was common at that time.

Proof that Lincolns relationship with Speed was innocent comes from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s excellent book, Team of Rivals.

Goodwin is a veritable Massachusetts liberal. She may even support Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court’s far-fetched ruling that permits men to marry men. But she draws the line at suggestions that Lincoln had homosexual feelings for Joshua Speed.

The proof? In December, 1864, President Lincoln nominated Joshua’s older brother James Speed for Attorney General of the U.S. In a letter to the Senate formally naming the elder Speed, Lincoln said he knew the Kentuckian, but not as well as Joshua Speed “with whom I shared a bed in Springfield for several years.”

If there were anything remotely sexual in that comment, Lincoln would hardly have been likely to tell all his fiercest political opponents about it. The Senate Judiciary Committee was then, as it is now, a hotbed of partisan rivalries.

Sen. John Cornyn should not have agreed to help the Log Cabiners with a fund-raiser in any event. But if he knew his Lincoln better, he would be offended at the group’s sly innuendo about the Great Emancipator.

Does Lawrence v. Texas Imply a Right to Same-Sex Marriage?

by Peter Sprigg

August 6, 2010

This week San Francisco federal Judge Vaughn Walker, in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects a right of same-sex couples to marry. This has sparked speculation about how the case might fare on appeal if and when it reaches the Supreme Court. Some commentators argue that the courts decision striking down sodomy laws, in the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, implies that the court would also back same-sex marriage. I wrote on that subject in 2004, and below are my observations, with quotes from the opinions in Lawrence.

The nuclear bomb of the homosexual marriage movement would be a decision by the United States Supreme Court declaring that it is unconstitutional to deny homosexual couples the benefits, or perhaps even the actual status, of civil marriage.

The likelihood of such a ruling appeared to increase exponentially when the Supreme Court struck down state laws against homosexual sodomy in the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which was decided on June 26, 2003.

Dissenting justice Antonin Scalia warned as much in his scathing dissent:

State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestialiy, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision: the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.[i]

However, a close examination of the majority opinion seems to cast doubt on Scalias sweeping claim that there was no such effort to cabin the rulings scope. For example, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision says this:

The laws involved in Bowers and here … seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.[ii]

In other words, he concedes that these relationships may not be “entitled to formal recognition,” i.e., marriage. He goes on immediately after to say:

This, as a general rule, should counsel against attempts by the state, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects.[iii]

Presumably he’s speaking of marriage here, and accepting that same-sex marriage, like adultery, might constitute abuse of an institution the law protects. Then in his conclusion, Kennedy again says:

The present case … does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.[iv]

Likewise, in her concurring opinion (basing her decision on equal protection considerations rather than privacy and due process), Justice O’Connor wrote:

That this law as applied to private, consensual conduct is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause does not mean that other laws distinguishing between heterosexuals and homosexuals would similarly fail under rational basis review. Texas cannot assert any legitimate state interest here, such as national security or preserving the traditional institution of marriage. Unlike the moral disapproval of same-sex relations—the asserted state interest in this case—other reasons exist to promote the institution of marriage beyond mere moral disapproval of an excluded group.[v]

In referring to national security or preserving the traditional institution of marriage as a legitimate state interest, she seems to be clearly saying that this case does not involve gays in the military or homosexual marriage.

Scalia, though, remained skeptical:

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Justice O’Connor seeks to preserve them by the conclusory statement that preserving the traditional institution of marriage is a legitimate state interest. But preserving the traditional institution of marriage is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.

Although I greatly respect Justice Scalia, I dont fully agree with this last sentence. As I have noted earlier, opposition to homosexual marriage does not have to be grounded only in disapproval of homosexual couples, but can rest in the recognition that their relationships are by nature something different from marriage.

While the majority opinion did have passages that appeared to distinguish the issues in Lawrence from those involved in marriage, yet other passages did indeed hint at a link. For example, Kennedy said:

When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.[vi]

In another passage, Kennedy cited the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey (which upheld a right to abortion). Kennedy declared:

The Casey decision again confirmed that our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.

He then went on to state, Persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do.[vii]

Legal scholars on the other side of the debate have drawn very similar conclusions to Scalias. Liberal Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe says, Same-sex marriage, as Justice Scalia predicted in his outraged dissent, is bound to follow; it is only a question of time… . [T]he underlying theory and most important passages of Lawrence suggest ready (though not immediate) applicability of the holding to same-sex marriage … .[viii]

In summary, a close reading of the Lawrence decision suggests that advocates of same-sex marriage could claim that it serves as precedent for same-sex marriagebut it would not inevitably do so.


[i] Lawrence et al. v. Texas, 123 S. Ct. 2472 (2003): 6 (page numbers cited are from the respective opinions as published in the initial Bench Opinion).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid., 17-18.

[v] Ibid., 7.

[vi] Ibid., 6.

[vii] Ibid. (Kennedy), 13.

[viii] Laurence H. Tribe, Lawrence v. Texas: The Fundamental Right That Dare Not Speak Its Name, 117 Harvard Law Review (April, 2004): 1945, 1949

A Higher Federal Court Has Already Rejected Same-Sex Marriageon Procreation Grounds

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2010

There is much to be said about U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walkers ruling in favor of same-sex marriage on August 4, and we will have more analysis of the opinion in coming days and weeks.

However, some media outlets have been reporting that this ruling is unprecedented because it is the first time that a federal court has tried to strike down a state marriage amendment on federal constitutional grounds. This is completely untrue. On May 12, 2005, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Bataillon issued a very similar ruling striking down Nebraskas marriage amendment. This ruling, however, did not standit was struck down, unanimously, by a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit on July 14, 2006.

The Eighth Circuit, like a majority of courts that have ruled on this issue (including the state Supreme Courts of New York, Washington, and Maryland), declared that the states interest in promoting responsible procreation provided a rational basis for distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex couples in the definition of marriage. Yet Judge Walkers decision dismissed this compelling argument with the casual observation, Never has the state inquired into procreative capacity or intent before issuing a marriage license.

The Eighth Circuits ruling explains why this is not a compelling argument for mandating same-sex marriage. Excerpts are below (citations omitted):

The State argues that the many laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and extending a variety of benefits to married couples are rationally related to the government interest in steering procreation into marriage. By affording legal recognition and a basket of rights and benefits to married heterosexual couples, such laws encourage procreation to take place within the socially recognized unit that is best situated for raising children. The State and its supporting amici cite a host of judicial decisions and secondary authorities recognizing and upholding this rationale. The argument is based in part on the traditional notion that two committed heterosexuals are the optimal partnership for raising children … . But it is also based on a responsible procreation theory that justifies conferring the inducements of marital recognition and benefits on opposite-sex couples, who can otherwise produce children by accident, but not on same-sex couples, who cannot. Whatever our personal views regarding this political and sociological debate, we cannot conclude that the States justification lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.

Even if the classification … is to some extent both underinclusive and overinclusive, and hence the line drawn … imperfect, it is nevertheless the rule that … perfection is by no means required. Legislatures are permitted to use generalizations so long as the question is at least debatable. The package of government benefits and restrictions that accompany the institution of formal marriage serve a variety of other purposes. The legislature — or the people through the initiative process — may rationally choose not to expand in wholesale fashion the groups entitled to those benefits.

We hope that the Ninth Circuitand/or the Supreme Courtwill follow this reasonable precedent.

Homosexual Agenda is Low PriorityEven for Democrats

by Peter Sprigg

July 13, 2010

Not only are the Obama administration and the Pelosi-led Democrats in Congress out of step with the American public in giving high priority to pushing a radical homosexual agenda, but they are out of step with their own Democratic base. Thats the message of a recent, admittedly unscientific survey conducted by The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). Heres how they described the survey:

More than 2,000 Democratic supporters offered input, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia… . Respondents were asked to rank how important a series of issues were to them. The issues were: Fully Funding Public Schools, Expanding Environmental Protections and Clean Energy, Strengthening Government Ethics Rules, Promoting Job Growth, and Promoting Equal Rights for the LGBT Community.

The results? All five issues were rated “extremely important” by a majority of respondents—except for LGBT “Equal Rights,” which got that rating from only 47.3%. By contrast, over 80% of respondents rated Public Education as extremely important. The homosexual agenda even had 19.3% of these Democratic activists dismissing it with replies of “not very important” (7.9%), “not important at all” (5.6%), or “no answer” (5.8%). Only 5.6% were as negative toward education as a priority.

We can only hope Congressional leadership will take this into account in determining whether to make homosexuals in the military and ENDA a priority in the tight legislative calendar between now and next January, when the new Congress takes office.

Democrats 2010 Legislative Priorities Survey

Excerpts from proposed Helena, Montana sex ed curriculum

by Peter Sprigg

July 13, 2010

On Tuesday evening, July 13, the Board of Trustees of the Helena, Montana public schools was scheduled to hear public comments for the first time on a controversial new sex education curriculum.

Some people who support in principle the idea of sex education in schools may wonder what the fuss is about in Helena. Just so people know how extreme the proposed curriculum is, here are some excerptsdirect quotations from the outline (available on the websee pp. 45-50):

Kindergarten:

Introduce basic reproductive body parts (penis, vagina, breast, nipples, testicles, scrotum, uterus)

Grade 1:

Understand human beings can love people of the same gender & people of another gender

Grade 2:

Understand making fun of people by calling them gay (e.g., homo, fag,’ queer) is disrespectful and hurtful.

Grade 4:

Understand sexual harassment is unwanted and uninvited sexual attention such as teasing, touching, or taunting, sexting and is against the law. [sic]

Grade 5:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.

Understand sexual orientation refers to a persons physical and/or romantic attraction to an individual of the same and/or different gender, and is part of ones [sic] personality.

Grade 6:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.

Understand gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

Grade 7:

Discuss the Supreme Court decision that has ruled that, to a certain extent, people have the right to make personal decisions concerning sexuality & reproductive health matters, such as abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

Discuss state laws governing the age of consent for sexual behaviors.

Understand sexual abuse involving touching can include kissing, an abuser touching genitals touching the abusers genitals, being asked to touch ones own genitals, or engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. [sic]

Grades 9-12:

Understand erotic images in art reflect societys views about sexuality & help people understand sexuality.

One other item in the high school curriculum, listed under human sexuality even though it has nothing directly to do with that, is this:

Understand seeking professional help can be a sign of strength when people are in need of guidance.

I imagine that after thirteen years of this curriculum, there would be a lot of young people in need of guidance and seeking professional help.

Did Pioneering Pro-Homosexual Judge Have a Conflict of Interest?

by Peter Sprigg

July 9, 2010

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has vetoed the bill to create civil unions that the legislature passed in a last-minute legislative maneuver in April. It was refreshing to see Gov. Lingle declare straightforwardly, I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same gender marriage and find that HB 444 is essentially marriage by another name. Its refreshing mostly because last year, two other governorsNew Hampshires John Lynch and Maines John E. Baldaccicaved to homosexual activists under similar circumstances, and signed bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

However, in reading a news report about the veto, something else caught my eye. Heres what the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said about one of the critics of the veto:

It’s beyond problematic,” said Steven Levinson, a retired associate justice of the state Supreme Court, whose daughter is a lesbian… . Levinson authored the landmark 1993 ruling that held that it was discriminatory for the state not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Now wait a second. The author of the very first court decision in American history that was supportive of same-sex marriagehas a lesbian daughter? Doesnt that suggest a little problem of judicial ethics known as a conflict of interest?

Of course, Levinsons landmark ruling was 17 years ago. His lesbian daughter might not have been out of the closet in 1993 (or might not have been born, for that matter). But it raises an interesting question, which iswhy am I the only person asking if this is a conflict of interest? If judges are going to rule on issues involving the supposed civil rights of homosexuals, dont they have a conflict if a close family memberor even they themselvesare homosexual? Shouldnt they be required to recuse themselvesor at least disclose the potential conflict?

Of course, its logically quite possible that a judge could rule objectively on the issue of same-sex marriage even while having a family member who self-identifies as gay. It is liberalsnot conservativeswho assume that there is a contradiction in loving a homosexual person while opposing same-sex marriage. But the way that Levinson spoke out publicly this week suggests that for him, liberal emotionalism trumps conservative logic. So its reasonable to ask whether it might also have trumped judicial restraint back in 1993.

You can only imagine the complaints of bias from liberals if the judge ruling on a case that arose from the Gulf oil spill were found to own stock in BPor even if his daughter did. Given their hostility to religion, the reaction might be even worse if a judge ruling on an issue involving a local churchsay, one of the Episcopal churches whose ownership is disputed by its conservative congregation and liberal diocesewere found to be a member of that same church (or even if his daughter was).

Why are there not similar howls when a judge who has a gay childor is gay herselfrules on issues involving homosexuality?

I guess liberal political correctness includes a lot of double standards.

Hospital Visit Horrors? Heres the Rest of the Story

by Peter Sprigg

April 21, 2010

On April 15, President Obama issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services instructing her to prepare regulations that will protect the right of homosexual partners (and other non-family members) to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

In a series of interviews the next day, I emphasized that the Family Research Council does not have any objection to such visitation in principle, as long as it is premised on the patients personal choice rather than on a redefinition of family or marriage. However, I also pointed out that the main reason this is even a topic of discussion is because it is used as a political talking point by the advocates of same-sex marriage, who see it as a golden opportunity to tug at peoples heartstrings and generate emotional sympathy for their cause.

I further asserted my belief that the frequency with which homosexuals are barred from visiting their partners in the hospital is grossly exaggerated. As I pointed out in an online chat on the Washington Post website,

The idea that homosexuals are regularly denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital is one that has only one source—homosexual activists who want to change the definition of marriage. Where are the media surveys of hospital administrators to determine how many hospitals actually have such restrictive policies?

In the reporting on the Obama memorandum, however, many media outlets cited the case of Janice Langbehn, a lesbian who sued a Florida hospital claiming that she was denied the right to visit her partner Lisa Pond when Pond was dying from an aneurysm. Langbehns story is apparently a familiar one in the homosexual activist community, thanks in large part to a sympathetic New York Times article last year.

In fact, Langbehns story was instrumental in moving Obama to act. According to the Washington Post:

Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side. Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said.

The New York Times story last year did report that the hospital disputes some of Langbehns charges, but media reports on the Obama memo last week, like that in the Post, did not even bother mentioning that. They were content to repeat the storyline of the homosexual activists verbatim, without even stopping to ask if there was another side.

There is, however, another side. On the website of the Miami Herald, I discovered that the hospital which Langbehn accused of mistreating her has sent its own letter to President Obama. Here is part of what the hospital said:

We would also like to take this opportunity to provide you with some clarification on the allegations being made by Janice Langbehn, whose partner was treated at Jacksons Ryder Trauma Center in 2007. From the beginning, JHS has vehemently denied that Ms. Langbehn was denied visitation due to her sexual orientation. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed Ms. Langbehns lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in September 2009.

Ms. Langbehns allegations and those made by published articles, blogs, etc., are inaccurate and have damaged the reputations and deeply hurt the feelings of the personnel in our trauma center. They have devoted their careers to all who come through our doors, from all walks of life.

JHS grants hospital visitation to all individuals equally, regardless of their relationship to the patient, as long as doing so does not interfere with the care being given to the patient or other patients in the area. With that said, our first priority when a patient is brought to our trauma center is always to stabilize the patient and save their life. As the only adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center in Miami-Dade County to support a population of more than 2.3 million people, our facility is one of the busiest and most renowned in the nation.

The Trauma Resuscitation Unit in Ryder Trauma Center, where Lisa Pond was treated when airlifted to Jackson, is more like a large operating room with multiple beds separated by glass partitions rather than a traditional hospital floor. Sometimes, visitors are not able to see a loved one in the trauma bay as quickly as they would like or they may have to wait until the patient is moved to the ICU or to another area of the hospital that is better suited for visitation. This all depends on the circumstances of the situation, how busy the unit is at the time and the medical conditions of the patients in the unit at the time. The patients in this area are facing life-threatening injuries or illnesses and are extremely vulnerable.

The most important piece of information to consider from our side of this story is that the charge nurse on duty the night Ms. Pond was in our care and the person who made all visitation access decisions that evening is herself a lesbian with a life partner. In addition, numerous members of the medical team working in our trauma unit are openly homosexual. We can assure you that Ms. Langbehn was not treated differently because of her sexual orientation.

When homosexuals complain that they are denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital, they may give some people the impression (I suspect deliberately) that in some hospitals they are never able to visit their partners, simply because they are not legally recognized as family members. I pointed out that for ordinary patients in ordinary hospital rooms (the vast majority of hospital patients), there are few if any restrictions on visitation. You dont go through security, no one checks your IDyou just walk up to the room and visit. Some hospitals have even done away with the tradition of visiting hours, and instead allow visitors to come in at any hour of the day or night.

I did acknowledge that there might be exceptions to these liberal visitation policies, such as when a patient is in intensive care. But there was one point so obvious that I did not bother making it (until now)and that is that in situations of emergency, trauma, or intensive care, hospitals may sometimes keep away all visitors from a patient for medical reasonsnot for reasons of discrimination. If the hospitals account is accurate, that is what happened to Janice Langbehn.

Is the thought of a person dying without their loved ones at their bedside an agonizing one? Of course. But it is an agony that is probably experienced by many people, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, every day, for one simple reasontheir beds are surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to save their lives.

The Obvious (About Men Who Have Sex With Men)Please Do Not Ignore

by Peter Sprigg

March 26, 2010

Men who choose to engage in sexual relations with other men place their health in serious jeopardyand thereby endanger the public health as well.

Unfortunately, like the nakedness of the Emperor in the childrens story of the The Emperors New Clothes, this is a truth that is so obviousyet so politically incorrectthat it is rarely spoken aloud.

When those of us who disapprove of and seek to discourage homosexual conduct speak this truth, we are routinely vilified as hateful. So let me step aside altogether, and let the secular, scientific, non-political experts speak for themselves. Below is a recent press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I reproduce it here, verbatim, in full, and uneditedexcept that I have highlighted in bold what are, in my opinion, the key findings.

I offer only one editorial comment. The CDC spokesman is cited as saying, There is no single or simple solution for reducing HIV and syphilis rates among gay and bisexual men. This is plainly false. There is, for example, a single and simple solution for smoking-related illnesses, and we have all heard itIf you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quit.

Its long past time for public health authorities to say the same about men having sex with men.

Press Release

http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Newsroom/msmpressrelease.html

All Findings Embargoed Until: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 4:30pm EST

Contact: NCHHSTPMediaTeam@cdc.gov

(404) 639-8895

CDC Analysis Provides New Look at Disproportionate Impact of HIV and Syphilis Among U.S. Gay and Bisexual Men

A data analysis released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores the disproportionate impact of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men in the United States.

The data, presented at CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.

The range was 522-989 cases of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women.

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women.

While CDC data have shown for several years that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and new syphilis infections, CDC has estimated the rates of these diseases for the first time based on new estimates of the size of the U.S. population of MSM. Because disease rates account for differences in the size of populations being compared, rates provide a reliable method for assessing health disparities between populations.

While the heavy toll of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men has been long recognized, this analysis shows just how stark the health disparities are between this and other populations,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “It is clear that we will not be able to stop the U.S. HIV epidemic until every affected community, along with health officials nationwide, prioritize the needs of gay and bisexual men with HIV prevention efforts.”

For the purposes of determining rates of disease for MSM, CDC researchers first estimated the size of the gay and bisexual male population in the United States defined as the proportion of men who reported engaging in same-sex behavior within the past five years. Based on an analysis of nationally representative surveys, CDC estimated that MSM comprise 2.0 percent (range: 1.4-2.7 percent) of the overall U.S. population aged 13 and older, or 4 percent of the U.S. male population (range: 2.8-5.3 percent). Disease rates per 100,000 population were then calculated using 2007 surveillance data on HIV and primary/secondary syphilis diagnoses and U.S. Census data for the total U.S. population.

The new analysis is the first step in more fully assessing the impact of HIV among MSM and other populations significantly affected by the disease. CDC is developing more detailed estimates of infection rates among MSM by race and age, as well as among injection drug users. CDC is also in the early stages of planning for estimates among heterosexuals. Ultimately, these data can be used to better inform national and local approaches to HIV and STD prevention to ensure that efforts are reaching the populations in greatest need.

Research shows that a range of complex factors contribute to the high rates of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men. These factors include high prevalence of HIV and other STDs among MSM, which increases the risk of disease exposure, and limited access to prevention services. Other factors are complacency about HIV risk, particularly among young gay and bisexual men; difficulty of consistently maintaining safe behaviors with every sexual encounter over the course of a lifetime; and lack of awareness of syphilis symptoms and how it can be transmitted (e.g., oral sex). Additionally, factors such as homophobia and stigma can prevent MSM from seeking prevention, testing, and treatment services.

Also, the risk of HIV transmission through receptive anal sex is much greater than the risk of transmission via other sexual activities, and some gay and bisexual men are relying on prevention strategies that may be less effective than consistent condom use.

There is no single or simple solution for reducing HIV and syphilis rates among gay and bisexual men,” said Fenton. “We need intensified prevention efforts that are as diverse as the gay community itself. Solutions for young gay and bisexual men are especially critical, so that HIV does not inadvertently become a rite of passage for each new generation of gay men.”

Preventing HIV and STDs among gay and bisexual men is a top CDC priority. CDC provides funding to health departments and community-based organizations throughout the nation to implement proven behavior-change programs for MSM and will soon expand a successful HIV testing initiative to reach more gay and bisexual men. Additionally, CDC is implementing an updated National Syphilis Elimination Plan in cities where MSM have been hardest hit by the disease, and will release an updated HIV prevention strategic plan within the next year to support the President’s upcoming National HIV/AIDS Strategy. CDC officials note that the new analysis released today underscores the importance of the HIV and STD prevention efforts targeting gay and bisexual men recently announced as part of the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget proposal.

For more information on HIV or syphilis, please visit www.cdc.gov/hiv or www.cdc.gov/std.

###

Everything Youve Heard About Dont Ask, Dont Tell is Wrong

by Peter Sprigg

February 4, 2010

One thing I have noticed in the debate over homosexuals in the military is that roughly 99.5% of the American public, including 99.5% of long-time Washington political reporters and 99.5% of members of Congress, believe three key things about the issue.

  1. The current policy regarding homosexuals in the military is governed by a law known as Dont Ask, Dont Tell.
  2. Under current law, homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military as long as they are not open about their sexual orientation.
  3. Doing away with Dont Ask, Dont Tell would allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military.

Each of these three statements is false.

Dont Ask, Dont Tell is not the law of the land. It was a compromise policy announced by the Clinton Administration in July of 1993, after their original proposal to simply open the military to homosexuals was widely rejected.[i]

When Congress adopted legislation on this issue in November of 1993, they did not say that homosexuals were welcome to serve in the military. On the contrary, they declared, The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.[ii]

Doing away with the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy would only allow more consistent enforcement of the current law against homosexuality in the military, unless Congress were to also repeal the law that they adopted in 1993.

For the record, here are the findings that Congress madeand that President Clinton signed into lawin 1993. This is the current law regarding homosexuality in the military:

Congress makes the following findings:

`(1) Section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States commits exclusively to the Congress the powers to raise and support armies, provide and maintain a Navy, and make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

`(2) There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.

`(3) Pursuant to the powers conferred by section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States, it lies within the discretion of the Congress to establish qualifications for and conditions of service in the armed forces.

`(4) The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and to prevail in combat should the need arise.

`(5) The conduct of military operations requires members of the armed forces to make extraordinary sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in order to provide for the common defense.

`(6) Success in combat requires military units that are characterized by high morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.

`(7) One of the most critical elements in combat capability is unit cohesion, that is, the bonds of trust among individual service members that make the combat effectiveness of a military unit greater than the sum of the combat effectiveness of the individual unit members.

`(8) Military life is fundamentally different from civilian life in that—

`(A) the extraordinary responsibilities of the armed forces, the unique conditions of military service, and the critical role of unit cohesion, require that the military community, while subject to civilian control, exist as a specialized society; and

`(B) the military society is characterized by its own laws, rules, customs, and traditions, including numerous restrictions on personal behavior, that would not be acceptable in civilian society.

`(9) The standards of conduct for members of the armed forces regulate a member’s life for 24 hours each day beginning at the moment the member enters military status and not ending until that person is discharged or otherwise separated from the armed forces.

`(10) Those standards of conduct, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, apply to a member of the armed forces at all times that the member has a military status, whether the member is on base or off base, and whether the member is on duty or off duty.

`(11) The pervasive application of the standards of conduct is necessary because members of the armed forces must be ready at all times for worldwide deployment to a combat environment.

`(12) The worldwide deployment of United States military forces, the international responsibilities of the United States, and the potential for involvement of the armed forces in actual combat routinely make it necessary for members of the armed forces involuntarily to accept living conditions and working conditions that are often spartan, primitive, and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.

`(13) The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service.

`(14) The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

`(15) The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.


[i] Susan Yoachum and Carolyn Lochhead, Clinton Orders New Gay-GI Policy: He concedes few will like compromise, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 1993, p. A1.

[ii] National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994, Public Law 103-160, November 30, 1993, Title V, Subtitle G, Sec. 571, Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces (10 U.S.C. 654); online at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c103:5:./temp/~c103HPMAIr:e399464:

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