Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Obituary: The Episcopal Church in the United States (1789-2009) Cause of Death: Suicide

by Peter Sprigg

July 24, 2009

The Episcopal Church in the United States took another major step toward ensuring its own demise last week, by adopting a resolution endorsing the ordination of homosexuals as clergy and bishops.

The resolution, adopted at the denominations General Convention, said that gay and lesbian persons … have responded to Gods call and have exercised various ministries, and declared that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The resolution was widely interpreted as abandoning a moratorium on the ordination of homosexual bishops that was adopted after the furor surrounding the appointment of Gene Robinson, a homosexual man, as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Several branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly the more conservative churches in Africa, rejected the decision to elevate Robinson. In the U.S., a number of Episcopal parishes and dioceses have already left the Episcopal Church altogether, and they recently organized as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The Episcopal General Convention three years ago adopted a resolution urging restraint regarding the elevation of any bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church. The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the highest ranking official in the worldwide Anglican Communion, had told the convention, I hope and pray that there wont be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.

Sponsors of this years resolution denied that it constituted a repeal of the earlier statement, but Pamela Reamer Williams of Integrity USA, a pro-homosexual advocacy group, declared that this years action supersedes the effective moratorium.

Most observers believe that this years resolution may be the last straw that results in a complete rupture of relationships between the Episcopal Church and most other worldwide Anglicans. Jeff Walton of the Institute for Religion and Democracy noted, In the Anglican Communion, 22 out of 37 other provinces are already in a state of either impaired or broken communion with the Episcopal Church. [Source]

The liberal Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, warned against recognition of the new ACNA by declaring that schism is not a Christian act. But British theologian (and Bishop of Durham) Tom Wright pointed out in the Times of London that it is the Episcopal Church which is formalizing the schism they initiated six years ago by consecrating Robinson as bishop. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion, said Wright.

One aspect of the resolution that has not attracted much media attention is that it appears to use money as a weapon to discourage any action against the Episcopal Church by the Anglican Communion. The resolution reaffirm[s] its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion, and the accompanying explanation notes that in 2007 the Episcopal Church contributed $661,000 to the Inter-Anglican budgetmore than a third of the total of $1,864,000. Presumably the resolution was hinting that this funding would be in jeopardy if the Anglican Communion were to break with the Episcopal Church.

In addition to a break with worldwide Anglicans, the Episcopal Church action is likely to lead to further erosion here in the United States as well. News about the release of the American Religious Identification Survey earlier this year focused on the 10% drop since 1990 in the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians (from 86% to 76%), without noting that almost all of the decline occurred in the 1990s. But they also failed to highlight that the biggest drop in Christian self-identification has come among the more liberal mainline Protestant bodiessuch as the Episcopal Church, which dropped from 3.5 million adherents in 2001 to only 2.4 million in 2008.

Are Some Members of Congress Just D-U-M-B?

by Peter Sprigg

July 22, 2009

FRC has recently noted the contradictions of the position of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who calls himself pro-life but was actually drummed out of the Democrats for Life of America because his plan for reducing abortion is to give more money (for contraception) to Americas largest abortion provider (Planned Parenthood).

But this quote from Rep. Ryan in a LifeNews.com article about the split with Democrats for Life really jumped out at me: I cant figure out for the life of me how to stop pregnancies without contraception.

Really? He cant figure it out? Not for the life of him?

Perhaps Rep. Ryan is under the impression that engaging in sexual relations is mandatory. Its not. Perhaps he thinks people will die if they dont have sex. They wontbut thousands die each year (of sexually transmitted diseases) because they do.

If Rep. Ryan cant figure out … how to stop pregnancies without contraception, let me spell it out for him.

A-B-S-T-A-I-N.

Same-Sex Marriage is Not Like Interracial Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

May 27, 2009

On May 27, prominent attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies (best known as one another’s opponents in Bush v. Gore, the court case regarding the disputed 2000 presidential election) announced that on May 22 they had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to establish a right to same-sex “marriage” nationwide under the U. S. Constitution.

In a press release and press conference, they cited as precedent the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws against interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S., 12; online ). They claimed that because of this precedent, homosexuals must be “guaranteed the right to marry the person they love.”

However, the U. S. Supreme Court in Loving never described the issue in that case as an unrestricted “right to marry the person they love.” Instead, it said that “the freedom of choice to marry [cannot] be restricted by invidious racial discrimination.”

The comparison between interracial marriage and same-sex “marriage” was concisely refuted in a 2003 Indiana court decision rejecting the claim of a right to homosexual “marriage.” As the judge noted,

Unlike anti-miscegenation laws, restrictions against same-sex marriage reinforce, rather than disrupt, the traditional understanding of marriage as a unique relationship between a woman and a man. Marriage traditionally and definitionally has had to do with the sex of each participant… . Anti-miscegenation laws, because they interfered with the traditional marriage relationships in pursuit of opprobrious racial segregation policies, had no legitimate connection to the institution of marriage itself. Loving in no way held that the right to marry means the right to marry whomever one wishes. Its import is far more focused: that whatever else marriage is about, it is not about racial segregation. (Morrison v. Sadler, Marion County, Indiana Superior Court, May 7, 2003; online)

The strong legal basis for the distinction was described by another court that rejected a homosexual challenge to marriage laws, this one in New Jersey:

Plaintiffs’ reliance on decisions striking down statutes that prohibit interracial marriage is misplaced. These decisions derive from Constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination and subjecting laws that classify individuals based on race to the highest level of scrutiny. No similar Constitutional provisions outlaw statutory classifications based on sexual orientation … . Comparing the State’s marriage statutes to laws perpetuating racial prejudice, therefore, is inapposite.

Individuals challenging bans on interracial marriage had a powerful weapon: Federal Constitutional provisions, passed by Congress and adopted by State Legislatures, that expressly prohibited States from denying recognized rights based on race. It was entirely appropriate for the courts to enforce those duly enacted Constitutional provisions by striking down statutes that made race a qualifying condition for access to a recognized right to marry. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert their claims in the absence of express Constitutional provisions supporting their position, and ask the court to circumvent the Legislative process by creating a right that has never before been recognized in this country.

The mandate for racial equality is firmly enshrined in both the Federal and State Constitutions. Importantly, two amendments to the United States Constitution expressly address racial equality [the 13th and 14th]… .

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia is predicated entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of racial classifications… .

No similar Constitutional provision accords heightened protection to individuals who claim that statutes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation… .

… [P]laintiffs … lack the significant legal foundation that was available to the plaintiffs in Loving to demand judicial recognition of the rights they seek.

(Lewis v. Harris, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, November 5, 2003; online )

No Softening on Gay Judges

by Peter Sprigg

May 13, 2009

Pro-homosexual activist groups like Lambda Legal began pressing President Obama, even before he was inaugurated, to appoint homosexuals as federal judges, and now that there is a Supreme Court vacancy, the possibility of the first “openly gay or lesbian” Supreme Court justice is being discussed in the media and (intensely) in the blogosphere.

Comments by Sen. Jeff Sessions, by a spokesman for Focus on the Family, and by me, suggesting that a history of same-sex attractions would not necessarily, automatically, and a priori disqualify a candidate for the court led a blogger for Politico to ask, “Is [the] right softening on gay judges?”

In that piece, Josh Gerstein contrasted recent comments by Focus on the Family judicial analyst Bruce Hausknecht with a quote of mine from an article about homosexual judges at the state level that appeared in USA Today in 2006. That article quoted me this way:

We don’t accept that homosexuality is any kind of cultural identity that should be sought in a judge,” says Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that opposes same-sex marriage. “We think it’s a behavior, not something that should be held up as a role model.”

That comment has been held up as somehow being in conflict with my comments last week to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the conservative Family Research Council, says that “the real issue would not be the person’s private life but the issue would be would they be imposing their personal ideology upon the court. In this case would they be imposing a pro homosexual ideology, a pro-same sex marriage ideology.”

It’s also been contrasted with what I told a blogger, Greg Sargent, who is affiliated with the Washington Post:

We don’t think that the process of selecting a Supreme Court justice should include asking questions about a person’s personal sex life,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, told me moments ago.

But if a person does publicly identify as gay or lesbian, or particularly if a person has been involved with homosexual rights activism at any level, then there would have to be serious questions asked about whether he or she would impose a pro-gay ideology on the court.”

Sprigg added that homosexuality in and of itself would not be a “determinant” against the acceptability of the nominee.

I didn’t even remember the USA Today interview until I saw it quoted, so I went back and reviewed it. The problem with the ostensibly more “hard-line” quote is that those quoting it did not mention that it came immediately after this statement by the reporter:

The effort by gay rights groups to increase the number of openly gay state and local judges has drawn criticism.

Three years later, I remain fully convinced that homosexuality can never be viewed as a positive characteristic in a judge (or in anyone else), so I fully stand by my position that no one should ever be appointed as a judge because they identify as “gay.”

However, those who identified my comments this year as a change in tone from the 2006 interview apparently did not read that article all the way through-since it ended with this:

[G]ay-rights groups … aim to create a “farm team” of judges who could be in position for the federal bench if future presidents are willing to appoint such judges.

Sprigg says his group would fight such an effort. But he says gay judges are acceptable to his group - as long as their sexual orientation isn’t a factor in their work.

We don’t think we should make an issue of it, if they keep it private,” he says. “If we had reason to believe that they would pursue a pro-homosexual agenda, then we would vigorously oppose them.”

Some of the bloggers commenting on this story have failed to make the distinction between saying conservatives “would not automatically disqualify” a homosexual candidate and saying conservatives “could support” one. The statements about not disqualifying a candidate simply reflect the fact that we believe even Supreme Court nominees deserve some zone of privacy, and acknowledge that there is at least a hypothetical possibility that somewhere in the country there is a judge who has experienced same-sex attractions, but who also respects judicial restraint and the original intent of the Constitution.

In the real world, however, the chances of finding a highly-qualified judge who fits both of those descriptions are probably about equal to the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. So don’t hold your breath waiting for social conservatives to “support” a “gay” judicial nominee.

Matthew Shepard’s Brutal Murder—No “Hoax,” But No “Hate Crime”

by Peter Sprigg

May 1, 2009

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has admitted making a “poor choice of words,” during House debate on a “hate crimes” bill on April 29, when she used the word “hoax” in connection with the 1998 murder of a homosexual Wyoming college student, Matthew Shepard.

Here’s what she actually said:

We know that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”

It should be clear to anyone remotely familiar with the Shepard murder or the hate crimes issue that she was not claiming that Shepard never existed or that his murder was a “hoax,” but only that it’s classification as an anti-gay “hate crime” was a “hoax.” Nevertheless, she was mocked as roughly the equivalent of a Holocaust denier.

Yesterday, Foxx explained, appropriately, that she was not trying to minimize the horror or brutality of Shepard’s murder in any way. “Mr. Shepard’s death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received.”

Some people, however, may still not be aware of the basis for Rep. Foxx’s claim that classifying this brutal attack as a “hate crime” is inaccurate. I explained it in a 2007 op-ed in the Washington Times:

The ultimate irony in all this is that Matthew Shepard’s death was probably not a “hate crime” at all. A courageous investigative report by ABC’s 20/20, which they unfortunately buried on the day after Thanksgiving [November 26] in 2004, revealed that most of the people most closely involved in the case say that the attack on Matthew Shepard was motivated by robbery and driven by drugs - not by hostility toward Matthew Shepard’s homosexuality. If he was specifically targeted, it may have been because he was small (only 105 pounds) and well-dressed - not because he was a homosexual.

When asked about the proof that it was a “hate crime,” Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted the case, declared, “Well, I don’t think the proof was there… That was something that they [friends of Shepard] had decided.” Ben Fritzen, a former police detective, said, “Matthew Shepard’s sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn’t the motive in the homicide… What it came down to, really, is drugs and money.”

McKinney’s girlfriend, Kristen Price, said, “I knew that night it was all about getting money… Money to get drugs.” McKinney himself, talking for the first time (he did not testify at his trial), told ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas that “it wasn’t a hate crime… [A]ll I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him.” In fact, McKinney said, “I have gay friends. … You know, that kind of thing don’t bother me so much.”

Wyoming had no “hate crimes” law. But that didn’t stop Shepard’s killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, from being sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, after being spared the death penalty only because Shepard’s parents interceded against it.

So it’s hard to argue that a “hate crimes” law would have made much difference-even if it had been a “hate crime.”

Yes, We Can . . .

by Peter Sprigg

April 16, 2009

 … blame activist judges for same-sex marriage in Vermont.

Although advocates of homosexual “marriage” had succeeded in overthrowing the natural definition of marriage in Massachusetts, California (briefly), Connecticut, and most recently Iowa, they have had to live with the albatross that it was only through the judicial usurpation of the legislative function that they had achieved this anywhere. Not one state had ever enacted same-sex “marriage” through any process that could be described as democratic.

Vermont has changed that. On April 7, the elected Vermont legislature succeeded in overriding a gubernatorial veto of a bill to grant civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Homosexual activists have gloated that, at long last, they have achieved a victory that we conservatives cannot blame on “activist judges.”

Their historical memories are too short.

Let’s remember that the Vermont Supreme Court, in a decision issued late in 1999, was the first in the nation to rule that same-sex couples must be granted 100% of the legal rights and benefits of marriage under state law. Only under the coercive pressure of this ruling did the Vermont legislature, in 2000, coin the now familiar term “civil unions,” in order to comply without actually changing the definition of “marriage.” And it was only because Vermont had already experienced nine years of desensitization, under the court-imposed counterfeit of “civil unions,” that the legislature finally capitulated to the demands of homosexual activists to be granted the word “marriage” as well.

In the pro-homosexual war to destroy the meaning of marriage, court rulings have been the aerial bombardment, meant to soften the defenses. By accepting specious claims that homosexual “marriage” is a “civil rights” issue, courts have made it easier for liberal legislators to advance the same claim. Only now, and only because of those judicial assaults, has the ground invasion-serious efforts to legislate same-sex “marriage”-begun.

Advocates of same-sex marriage will argue, of course, that it’s perfectly legitimate for the courts to drive social change. After all, didn’t Brown v. Board of Education (1954) pave the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964? The problem with that argument is that the Brown decision was clearly rooted in the constitutional language of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, which established the principle of racial equality (albeit unfulfilled) nearly a century earlier. I’ve written elsewhere about why race is not comparable to homosexual conduct. But if advocates of same-sex “marriage” really see themselves as heirs of the civil rights movement, let them first amend the U.S. Constitution-and only then appeal to the courts.

Anti-Spanking Zealots Need a Timeout

by Peter Sprigg

March 23, 2009

Yet another “study” by a long-time anti-spanking researcher has been released by an anti-spanking advocacy group. Not surprisingly, the study is anti-spanking. Ironically, though, the research did not focus on spanking at all, but on “physical punishment.” The study explicitly lumps together words like “spank,” “slap,” “beat,” “punch,” and “whip,” treating them as if they are all the same thing. There is a huge difference between the ordinary disciplinary spanking practiced by most parents and all these other forms of “physical punishment,” which can more easily be abusive. Defining the issue this way makes the study useless for identifying the actual impact of “spanking” as such. The key both to the effectiveness of parental discipline (including spanking) and its effect on the child (whether positive or negative) lies in how the discipline is undertaken in its larger context, not simply what disciplinary tool is used. Studies have actually shown that a disciplinary style that balances firm control (including spanking) with positive encouragement results in the best outcomes for children. It’s clear that the long-term goal of these anti-spanking zealots is a legal ban on all spanking that would treat it as “assault” and a “human rights violation.” This is an intrusion into parental rights that Americans should not tolerate.

Arizona Republic report on new study of “physical punishment”

Spare the Rod? The Research Challenges Spanking Critics,” by Den Trumbull, M.D. and S. DuBose Ravenel, M.D.

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS07K02

School Choice is Key to Parental Involvement in Education, not Punishment

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2009

A Kentucky state legislator, Rep. Adam Koenig, has introduced a bill that would impose fines on parents who don’t attend parent-teacher conferences. [Source]

Rep. Koenig is certainly right that parental involvement in their children’s education is important, but this hardly seems the right way of encouraging it.

It might be better to use a carrot, rather than a stick. Instead of imposing on parents we should be empowering them, by expanding school choice. That could include magnet schools, charter schools, vouchers, tax breaks for private schools, and support for homeschooling. Giving parents real choices about their children’s education would be more effective that just forcing them to show up for a meeting.

A law like this (if adopted) would seem to be a case of the government punishing people simply for not being very good parents. We should be wary of any policy that involves the government interfering with the autonomy of the family in that way-by deciding what it thinks a “good” parent is, and punishing people who don’t live up to the government’s standard.

Obviously, government has to intervene when parents abuse their children, by beating them, for instance, or neglect them by failing to feed and clothe them. But missing a parent-teacher conference hardly seems to rise to that level. Koenig reportedly compared the fines to those imposed on parents who fail to insure that their children attend school. But we shouldn’t be treating parents like children by making the parents go to school.

On a practical level, it should be noted that face-to-face parent-teacher conferences are not the only means of communication available between parents and the school. They can use the phone, email, or even handwritten notes to and from the teacher. For families with two working parents or with younger children at home, or for single parents, it may be very difficult to find time to go in for a parent-teacher conference, yet they may still be very involved in their children’s education. We simply shouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all solution.

The God of Gene Robinson’s Understanding

by Peter Sprigg

January 17, 2009

The homosexual Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson will offer a prayer at a pre-inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. Here’s part of what he told National Public Radio about his preparation (thanks to David Brody of CBN for this link.):

Robinson: I have actually read back over the inaugural prayers of the last 30 or 40 years and frankly I’ve been shocked at how aggressively Christian they are. And my intention is not to invoke the name of Jesus but to make this a prayer for Christians and non-Christians alike. Although I hold the scripture to be the word of God, those scriptures are holy to me and Jews and Christians, but to many other faith traditions they have their own sacred texts. And so rather than insert that and really exclude them from the prayer by doing so, I want this to be a prayer to the god of our many understandings and a prayer that all people of faith can join me in.

 

NPR Host: The god of many understandings?

Robinson: “Yes. I was treated for alcoholism three years ago and grateful to be sober today. And one of the things that I’ve learned in 12 step programs is this phrase, ‘the god of my understanding’. It allows people to pray to a God of really many understandings. And let’s face it, each one of us has a different understanding of God. No one of us can fully understand God or else God wouldn’t be God.”

NPR Host: I’m not sure that a God of many understandings has been invoked at an inauguration before?

Robinson: Well, I’ve done a lot of things for the first time in my life and I will be proud to do this one.

Let me note a couple of things here. Robinson says he is shocked at how aggressively Christian” inaugural prayers” of the last 30 or 40 years” have been. Forty years ago would have been the inauguration of Richard Nixon, which was probably the first inauguration I ever watched, and I think I’ve watched all but two of them (when I was overseas) since. I haven’t actually done the research Robinson has, but I don’t remember any as “aggressively Christian.” My impression is that prayers at such events tend to be blandly, generically monotheistic, while perhaps also being “aggressively” patriotic. Giving an altar call would be “aggressively Christian.” Simply praying “in Jesus’ name,” or quoting from the Bible, is not.

Secondly-does it strike anyone else as odd that a Christian clergyman, a bishop no less, takes his theology from a twelve-step program? Such programs have helped a lot of people, and I’m glad Bishop Robinson got help for his alcoholism-but didn’t the man ever go to seminary? A Christian seminary, even?

Robinson is right in a certain sense when he says, “No one of us can fully understand God or else God wouldn’t be God.” But Christians believe that our own incapacity as finite humans to figure out God on our own is the very reason why God took the initiative to reveal himself to us, both in the person of Jesus and in the words of Scripture. That’s where Christian theology goes beyond the twelve-step theology.

With that said, though, Bishop Robinson seems to be mis-applying even the twelve-step theology. The idea is for each individual to pray to “the god of my understanding.” That is not the same as one individual praying to “a God of many understandings,” which is what Robinson is pledging to do.

I would submit that when a Christian clergyman prays at a public event “in Jesus’ name,” he is doing exactly what the twelve-step program calls for-praying to the “[G]od of [his] understanding.” It is those who would deny him that right-not the Christian clergyman-who are guilty of the worst form of intolerance.

Judge Lederman’s Top Ten List: Bad Arguments for Homosexual Parenting

by Peter Sprigg

January 12, 2009

After seven years of working on the issue of homosexuality at the Family Research Council, I think I have a pretty good sense of the arguments that pro-homosexual activists use in support of their agenda, such as affirmation of homosexual parents and same-sex “marriage.” Even when those arguments are made well, they are unconvincing-but when they are made poorly, it just leaves me shaking my head.

One example of this phenomenon-bad arguments made badly-got a lot of attention recently. That was the Newsweek cover story on “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” penned by the magazine’s religion editor Lisa Miller. It was so poorly researched and poorly reasoned that Miller should lose her job for it-not because she is in error, but because she is incompetent. Some political writer posting on a blog might get away with the kind of sloppiness Miller showed-but a “religion editor” writing a cover story should not be allowed to. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and I wrote in detail about the Newsweek story on December 9.

Another example of a bad pro-homosexual argument badly made drew less attention, in part because of timing. On November 25-just two days before Thanksgiving-a Miami-Dade County judge in Florida, Cindy S. Lederman, issued a ruling declaring that state’s law barring homosexuals from adopting children to be a violation of the Florida constitution. The ruling came despite the fact that in 2004, the federal courts rejected a similar challenge to the same law. Lederman’s 53-page decision can be found here.

I am no longer surprised when a judge merely regurgitates the arguments typically offered by pro-homosexual activists, instead of engaging in an open-minded and thoughtful analysis. Such regurgitation is exactly what was done by the judges who voted to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. But when a judge does not just explain away the evidence against the pro-homosexual position, but essentially denies that it even exists, then you know that the fix was in from the start.

Let me explain how the debate over homosexual parenting usually plays out, and how Judge Lederman went even beyond the normal pro-homosexual talking points.

One of the key arguments in favor of allowing homosexual parenting usually goes something like this: “There’s no proof that children raised by homosexuals do any worse than children raised by heterosexuals.” That they are able to make this claim with any degree of plausibility is due to only one fact-virtually all of the studies that have been conducted specifically of homosexual parents have suffered from such grave methodological flaws that they cannot be said to provide definitive “proof” of much of anything, one way or the other.

It is extremely difficult to get a truly random sample of the homosexual population, simply because that population is so small. The best surveys show that only about two percent of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual (and only about one percent of couples sharing households). Therefore, scholars doing research on homosexuality often have to rely on “convenience samples”-for example, by advertising for study participants in publications catering to homosexuals. In the case of homosexual parents, it seems likely that those whose children are suffering serious problems would be less likely to volunteer, while those who do volunteer may be motivated by a desire to prove a point, and put only their best foot forward. Such a sample is likely to yield a more positive picture of homosexual parents than a truly random sample would.

Going hand-in-hand with the “no proof” claim is the “no differences” claim-the assertion that the research shows “no differences” between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. Yet this claim has been decisively refuted by a source whose credibility on the issue is enhanced by her clear lack of bias against homosexuals-namely, the militantly pro-homosexual researcher Judith Stacey. Her 2001 article in American Sociological Review (with co-author Timothy J. Biblarz) conclusively refutes the “no differences” claim, noting that the research actually shows that children of lesbians are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior, daughters of lesbians are “more sexually adventurous and less chaste,” and lesbian “co-parent relationships” are more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages. Stacey does not consider these differences to be problematic, but others will certainly disagree. In essence, Stacey’s article confirms that advocates and many researchers themselves have been simply lying when they make the “no differences” claim.

Lederman’s decision mentions the Stacey and Biblarz article in a footnote, and notes her pro-homosexual position, but it fails to even mention the significance of the article in refuting the “no differences” claim. Instead Lederman merely repeats the discredited claim, declaring, “These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children” (p. 37 of the decision). Yet she goes even further. After repeating the (discredited) claim that there are “no differences,” she goes well beyond the narrowly defensible claim that the research provides “no proof” of negative outcomes, and instead makes a sweeping assertion that “based on the robust nature of the evidence in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise.”

To call the evidence “robust” on this matter is an exaggeration that should be embarrassing even to the pro-homosexual activists themselves. A detailed literature review of 49 studies on homosexual parenting reported:

Some major problems uncovered in the studies include the following:

Unclear hypotheses and research designs

Missing or inadequate comparison groups

Self-constructed, unreliable and invalid measurements

Non-random samples, including participants who recruit other participants

Samples too small to yield meaningful results

Missing or inadequate statistical analysis

Lerner and Nagai found at least one fatal research flaw in all forty-nine studies. As a result, they conclude that no generalizations can reliably be made based on any of these studies. For these reasons the studies are no basis for good science or good public policy.

Lederman’s own account of the testimony of one witness for the petitioner, however, contradicts the “no differences” claim in at least one crucial area-namely, the sexuality of young people raised by homosexual parents. Lederman notes on p. 17 that “one study revealed that female children raised by lesbians were more sexually active” and also said that “children raised by lesbian mothers expressed openness to considering same sex attraction.” But the witness, English psychologist  Michael Lamb, reportedly dismissed these findings as representing merely “a lesson in promoting tolerance” and showing that “children raised by lesbians are less strictly tied to sexual roles and rigid applications of sex roles.”

The principal case against homosexual parenting, however, is not based so much on the limited, methodologically deficient studies of homosexual parents as such. Instead, it is based on inferences to be drawn from two other bodies of research that are, indeed, “robust” in their findings. One is the evidence that homosexuality itself is associated with high levels of a number of pathologies-sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. The second is the overwhelming body of evidence showing that in general, children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to each other in a lifelong marriage. When these two bodies of evidence are juxtaposed upon each other, they provide more than sufficient reason for alarm about deliberately placing children with homosexual parents (for example, through foster care or adoption). Let’s look at these two factors individually.

Pro-homosexual activists usually do not deny that homosexuals have higher physical and  mental health risks-the evidence is simply too overwhelming. In fact, one of the most succinct summaries of those risks can be found on the website of the pro-homosexual Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Here are some of the GLMA’s warnings about homosexual men:

That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known . . .”

Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population, and not just in larger communities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”

Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population.”

Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis.”

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate.”

Although more recent studies have improved our understanding of alcohol use in the gay community, it is still thought that gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse than straight men.”

Recent studies seem to support the notion that gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men . . .”

Problems with body image are more common among gay men than their straight counterparts, and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.”

[H]uman papilloma virus [HPV] … infections may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men.”

Although the health risks for lesbians are not as dramatic as those for homosexual men, they are still significant:

Lesbians have the richest concentration of risk factors for breast cancer than any subset of women in the world.”

Lesbians have higher risks for many of the gynecologic cancers.”

Research confirms that lesbians have higher body mass than heterosexual women.”

Research also indicates that lesbians may use tobacco and smoking products more often than heterosexual women use them.”

Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians.”

Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.”

Since the evidence is so overwhelming, the usual explanation offered by pro-homosexual activists for the mental health problems (and sexual risk-taking, which leads to physical health problems) of homosexuals is to blame society’s negative attitudes toward homosexual conduct. For example, the GLMA list offers this explanation for higher rates of depression and anxiety among lesbians: “Lesbians have been shown to experience chronic stress from homophobic discrimination.”

However, instead of offering this stock answer (“Homophobia made me do it!”) to the mental health problems of homosexuals, Judge Lederman baldly denied that such problems exist at all, declaring that “expert witnesses” had shown that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts” (p. 10).

Yet a detailed footnote (footnote #8, p. 14) giving actual statistics shows a completely different story. For example it states that rates of “major depression” are more than twice as high among homosexual men than among heterosexual men (17% to 8%). Rates of smoking are 47% higher among bisexual men than among heterosexual men (28% to 19%; rates for homosexual men are not given), and 77% higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (23% to 13%). Rates of alcohol dependency are 42% higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (9.2% to 6.5%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (9% to 2.7%). Rates of drug dependency are two and a half times higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (7.5% to 3%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (5% to 1.5%). “Suicide attempts” are twice as high among homosexual men as among heterosexual men (5.6% to 2.8%), and they are more than twice as high among lesbian or bisexual women as among heterosexual woman (11% to 4.5%). Meanwhile, the “lifetime history of suicide attempts” (presumably measured in a different study) is more than three times as high among homosexuals as among heterosexuals (14% to 4.5%).

It may be that we should not place too much weight upon the specific statistics cited in Footnote 8, because they include several illogical anomalies, perhaps resulting from the conflation of data from different studies. For example, the data on “major depression” report that the rate for “men” (5%) is significantly lower than the rate for both homosexual and heterosexual men (17% and 8%, respectively)! On the other hand, the data for “smoking” indicate that the rate for “men” (36.4%) is higher than the rate for both bisexual and heterosexual men (28% and 19%)-it hardly seems likely that the population of homosexual men (omitted from the list) would be large enough to raise the total figure so dramatically. On the female side in the smoking category, the rate listed for “women” (23%) is the same as that listed for lesbians, but significantly higher than that listed for heterosexual women (13%), even though the latter are the overwhelming majority of all women.

The mere fact that such manifest absurdities were included in the decision demonstrates the carelessness and incompetence of Judge Lederman. But even when taken with a substantial grain of salt, the data certainly provide no support whatsoever for her claim that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts.”

In fact, the internal contradictions of Judge Lederman’s opinion are illustrated by the fact that she later abandons the “no more susceptible” claim, citing another expert witness on page 14 as concluding that “the average rates of psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking are [emphasis added] slightly higher for homosexuals than heterosexuals” (though rates that range from 42% to 233% higher, as indicated in Footnote 8 on the same page, would seem to be more than “slight” differences). Instead of denying the differerences altogether (as on p. 10), Lederman shifts to another argument, suggesting that there are other demographic groups that also have higher rates of “psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking” than the general population, including “American-Indians,” “the unemployed,” and “non-high school graduates.”

This comparison, however, is flawed because homosexual conduct is not an innate characteristic like race, an involuntary characteristic like unemployment, nor a socioeconomic characteristic like educational attainment. It is a behavioral characteristic, defined by the voluntary choice to engage in specific behaviors, namely sexual acts with people of the same sex.

By way of comparison: if the research shows that women are more likely to get breast cancer than men, that cannot logically be taken as proof that women are inherently inferior to men, because one’s biological sex is an innate and involuntary condition. On the other hand, if research shows that cigarette smokers are more likely to get breast cancer than non-smokers, such a finding can logically be taken as evidence that not smoking is better than smoking, because smoking is a voluntary behavior with demonstrable negative consequences.

Much of the homosexual rights movement as a whole rests on deliberate obfuscation of this point. That is, it rests on the effort to portray homosexuality (falsely) as an innate characteristic like race or sex, instead of as what it is-a voluntary behavior, like smoking, that has clear negative consequences.

When it comes to the findings that children do best when raised by their own, biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, most pro-homosexual activists do not try to deny the overwhelming evidence. Instead, they generally will point out that most of the studies on which this conclusion is based involve comparisons with single-parent families or divorced families, rather than with homosexual couples as such.

Judge Lederman, however, was not content to dismiss this evidence as not being directly relevant, the way most pro-homosexual activists do. Instead, she dismissed it altogether. Citing Dr. Lamb for authority, she declares that “researchers once believed that traditional families provided the best environment for children. As the research developed, however, the notion was proven to be flawed …” (p. 15). She concludes her summary of Lamb’s testimony with two other statements, also false, stating that “the assumption that children need a mother and a father in order to be well adjusted is outdated and not supported by the research,” and making the absurd claim that “there is a well established and generally accepted consensus in the field that children do not need a parent of each gender to adjust healthily” (p. 18).

The truth is exactly the opposite. For instance, the non-partisan think tank Child Trends surveyed the literature and found, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.” To the argument (often advanced by homosexual activists) that it is merely having the support of two parents that matters, Child Trends added, “Children growing up with stepparents also have lower levels of well-being than children growing up with biological parents. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”

In similar fashion, Lederman denies that homosexual partnerships are more unstable than heterosexual marriage-then includes a footnote showing exactly the opposite. Footnote #4 on p. 11 cites one study (apparently from Europe) showing that “same sex couples in civil unions” had break-up rates 41 % higher than married heterosexuals (3.8% to 2.7%), while “same sex couples not in civil union” [sic] had rates more than three times higher (9.3%). It cites another study from Sweden in which the break-up rates for “gay male registered partnerships” were 75% higher than for married heterosexuals (14% to 8%), and the rates for “lesbian registered partnerships” were two and a half times higher (20%). She also cites an old (1970) study that showed that just in the first two years of a relationship, the break-up rates for “gay men” were four times higher than for married heterosexuals (16% to 4%), and the rates for lesbians were five and a half times higher (22%).

I won’t even go into the blatant religious bigotry expressed by Judge Lederman, who dismissed the testimony of two experts for the state on the basis of their having written for religious publications. James A. Smith, Sr. of the Florida Baptist Witness has already written on that aspect of Lederman’s decision here.

Lederman’s decision was not only poorly reasoned, but poorly written, being riddled with non sequitirs and punctuation errors. Take this passage on whether homosexuality is a mental disorder, for example: “Today, Dr. Berlin reports that leading professionals agree that homosexuality defines one’s same sex attraction only. [?] According to the witness, homosexuality was removed from the DSM because the evidence of [for?] it’s [sic] classification as a disorder did not justify the conclusion.”

While Judge Lederman’s decision was a comedy of errors, it is no laughing matter. One can only hope that this atrocious decision will be overturned on appeal.

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