Thursday, December 13, 2012

Republicans secretly authorized additional $500,000 for faulty DOMA defense

Republicans in Congress are starting to cheese me off. They want to cut monies on Social Security and Medicaid, while at the same time doing the following, via Think Progress:

It has come to light that House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA) secretly approved a $500,000 increase to a contract with a private law firm to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. While the increase was approved in September, neither the public nor the Democratic House minority was informed until this week, Roll Call reports. The contract now authorizes Bancroft PLLC and former Solicitor General Paul Clement (R) to spend up to $2 million in to defend DOMA — the second increase to what was originally a $1 million cap. The U.S. Department of Justice stopped defending the 1996 law in February 2011 after determining the law to be in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

Two million dollars in an attempt to deny gays the right to marry. And if that's enough to get you angry, remember the fact that Clement, their lawyer, is using faulty research and tactics in his case. I wrote about this last year but let's recap:

1. Clement tried to sneak in the testimony of former NOM chair Maggie Gallagher in a way which would have kept her from being cross-examined.

2. A professor cited by Clement in a brief defending DOMA, Lisa Diamond, complained that her work was being distorted.

3. Clement is also citing - in a second hand fashion - junk science from discredited researchers. In his defense of DOMA, Clement cites the work of Case Western Reserve University law professor George W. Dent, Jr.

But Dent's work - which Clement uses -  cited both Paul Cameron and George Rekers, two discredited researchers. Cameron has been censured or rebuked by several organizations for his bad methodology in his studies. He has published work which claimed, among other nauseating false things, that gays stuff gerbils up their rectums. (Editor's note-  the piece Cameron cited to make this claim - The Straight Dope - actually said that this claim was not true. Cameron dishonestly "flipped the script" to make it seem that The Straight Dope was affirming this claim.)

Rekers lost a lot of credibility for last year's scandal when he was caught coming from a European vacation with a "rentboy."

Also, Dent cited the work of Walter Schumm's study Children of Homosexuals More Apt To Be Homosexuals? A Reply to Morrison and to Cameron Based on an Examination of Multiple Sources of Data.

Schumm's study was criticized for using the same false methodology as Cameron's work. i.e. citing sources "from general-audience books about LGBT parenting and families, most of which are available on"

Furthermore, Dent cited a book called Straight & Narrow by Thomas E. Schmidt to make criticisms about gay health. However, Schmidt is not a credible researcher in the field of gay health. He is a professor of New Testament Greek at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and according to Rev. Mel White of the group Soulforce, Schmidt cited Cameron's discredited studies many times in Straight & Narrow (5th letter to Jerry Falwell.)

And last, but not least, Dent cited the work of the American College of Pediatricians. The American College of Pediatricians is not a credible organization, but an organization created to give credibility to junk science about the gay community. Last year, over 14,000 school district superintendents in the country were sent a letter by ACP inviting them to peruse and use information from a new site, Facts About Youth. The site claimed to present "facts" supposedly not tainted by "political correctness."  Of course these were not facts, but ugly distortions about the gay community, including:

Some gay men sexualize human waste, including the medically dangerous practice of coprophilia, which means sexual contact with highly infectious fecal wastes.

If this isn't enough to get you angry at Boehner and company, then you need to check your pulse. You may not have one.

'Ridiculous video makes NO point against marriage equality' and other Thursday midday news briefs

With all due respect, this video I pulled from Jeremy Hooper's blog is super inane:

And the reason that allowing gays to marry would hurt the above concept is how . . .. ? This video is from the Iona Institute in Ireland. Man they need to do something better to explain their point of view.

 In other news:

WND Promotes Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill - Via "World Nut Daily," arch-bigot Scott Lively speaks up for Uganda's anti-gay bill. He should because he helped start the panic which created it. And get this - while he doesn't believe in the death penalty for gays, he is all for life in prison. Well gee. "Thanks a lot, @!%$"

 Regnerus Scandal Ripped Wide Open As UT Confesses To Major, Systemic Ethics Failures - Looks like NOM's bought-and-paid for anti-gay parenting bill is catching more problems.

  Zero-Tolerance Policies Perpetuate A School-to-Prison Pipeline For LGBT Youth - You have to read this. It's an awful thing for our children and a lot of folks aren't aware that it's taking place.

Family Research Council, NOM caught in lies about gay parenting study

FRC and NOM tries to lie about families like this one.
I have talked about how the religious right distorts legitimate studies to attack the gay community.  There have been many times in which this has happened. And today comes another one. From the Family Research Council:

According to a new study, having two married parents may be the best educational advantage you can give your kids. Based on data from 1.6 million children, Michael Rosenfeld confirms what FRC's research has shown for some time: children from intact, married families were 35.4% more likely to do well in school than kids in homosexual homes. Also, children adopted into heterosexual families fared better -- with a 24% edge in school progress over kids in same-sex families.

If the "new study" sounds familiar to folks who have read this blog, it's because I talked about it days ago. That time, the National Organization for Marriage was touting it and I pointed out how one of the study's authors - Douglas Allen -  was affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute.

In the comments section of this blog, readers were alerting me to something that I confess I should have been paying more attention to.  And now that the Family Research Council is touting the study - and inadvertently revealed an important fact about it - I am wide awake and raring to raise hell.

Both FRC and NOM are misleading folks in far more detail than I realized.

NOM omitted the fact that technically Allen didn't necessarily create an original study. Allen told The Washington Examiner the following:

The study also looked at similar scholarly work that had determined no difference in children of same sex and traditional marriages. The authors said that those studies filtered the sample of children to get their result.

"The previous study claiming no differences between the children of same sex parents and other children had serious problems," said study co-author Douglas Allen, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. That study, he said, "excluded children who were not biologically related to the household head, and children who did not live in the same place for five years. That threw out over half of the observations. When we put those children back into our analysis, but controlled for these factors, we found that the children of same sex parents are less likely to make normal progress through school."

 In other words, Allen took another study, published in 2010 and added new details in an attempt to get a conclusion more desirous to his position.

FRC is misleading folks making them believe the study is new and that the actual author - Michael Rosenfield - interprets it as a knock on same-sex families.

This is not true because of a letter Rosenfield wrote in November. In the letter, published in the same issue of  Demography,  he blasted Allen for manipulating his original work. It reads in part:

 In Rosenfeld (2010), I was very careful to include only children who lived with their current parents for at least five years because those children’s current family structure influenced their progress through school. In their revision of my analysis, Allen et al. preferred to analyze the outcomes of all children, regardless of how long they had lived with their current families. Allen et al. therefore attributed to the current family (at the time of the census) child outcomes that may have been produced years before the current family was formed. Allen et al. violated a fundamental rule of causal order, which is that later characteristics ought not be used to predict earlier events.

It is a long point-by-point take down that you can read in its entirety if you wish. But the main gist is at the end. Rosenfield says:

Allen et al. reached the conclusion that children in same-sex-couple families fare worse in school by including all children regardless of how long the child has lived with the family (see their Models 2 and 4) and by including adopted and foster children along with the head of household’s own children (their Models 3 and 4). Allen et al.’s finding of worse school performance by children living with same-sex couples is due to their conflating the initial disadvantage of children who come into same-sex couple families (a disadvantage that appears to be substantial) with the progress children experience during the time when they are actually being raised by same-sex couples (progress that is excellent).
There is no statistically significant difference in making normal progress through school between children raised by same-sex couples and children raised by heterosexual married couples after family socioeconomic status is taken into account (see Table 1, column E). Allen et al. noted that even if the difference is not significant, the children of heterosexual married couples appear to be faring better. By the same logic, the children raised by unmarried heterosexual couples appear to be faring worse (with higher rates of grade retention) than children raised by same-sex couples (all of whom were unmarried according to U.S. law), though the difference in grade retention is not significant after socioeconomic controls are applied.
If formal marriage of the parents is beneficial to children, and if the goal of public policy is to maximize children’s chances of success, then perhaps the logical public policy prescription would be to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the United States.

So it seems that both NOM and FRC both tried to pull a fast one at the same time and got caught. This is certainly a first for me - the first time I am able knock two religious right groups at the same time for lying.

And it was fun. I wish it would happen more often

Editor's note - To the readers who were trying to point out the main problems with Allen's study to me, I profusely apologize for not paying attention like I should have.