Archive for October, 2009

Setting the Record Straight: No Adverse Effects on Kids Raised by Same-Sex Parents

October 31, 2009

The following paragraph appeared in a Washington Times editorial of October 28, 2009:

The value of marriage hasn’t just been proven by experience. Social science backs it as well. A large number of studies show children raised in a family with a mother and a father perform much better in everything in life, from school to staying away from a life of crime.

A large number of studies? Which ones? Where?

MediaMatters.org has generously provided some research that refutes this claim. Here are their findings, in abbreviated form:

Chicago Tribune: “[W]ithin the research community there are no empirical studies demonstrating adverse effects.”

American Psychological Association: “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: Children of gay parents “fare as well” as those of straight parents.

National Association of Social Workers: “compelling” evidence that parenting is equal.

Child Welfare League of America: Children of gay parents are “just as likely to be healthy and well-adjusted.”

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War Against Christianity

October 11, 2009

War against Christianity

Washington State Voters to Decide on Expansion of Domestic-Partnership Law

October 4, 2009

Approve Ref 71The Washington State legislature enacted its first domestic partnership law in 2007. The law, drafted by State Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, created a registry for committed gay and lesbian partners and for straight couples where one partner is at least 62. For the first time, partners in such relationships were guaranteed hospital visitation rights, the right to give informed consent and to receive health-related information, and the right to consent to autopsies.

The following year, the domestic-partnership law was extended to cover estate planning and to address jointly owned property, taxes, debts, and some veteran benefits.

Finally, in 2009, the law was expanded to grant registered partners virtually all the rights and benefits accorded to married couples under state law. These include the right to use sick leave to care for one another, the right to death and pension benefits, and the right to receive an injured partner’s wages and unemployment and disability-insurance benefits.

Though the latest version of the law has been called the “everything but marriage” act, domestic partners in Washington State will still not enjoy the full benefits of legal marriage. More than 1100 federal protections and benefits enjoyed by married couples are still lacking, and Washington domestic partner unions are invalid outside the state.

Religious conservatives opposing the 2009 expansion of the domestic-partnership law lost no time in organizing against it. In the spring and summer after its passage, Protect Marriage Washington collected enough signatures to challenge it in the November 2009 election. Referendum 71 asks voters to approve or to reject it.   

If you are a Washington voter who opposed the referendum during the signature-gathering phase, don’t get confused! Notice that the referendum asks whether the 2009 bill should be approved or rejected. Therefore, you will blacken the oval next to “approved.”

Finally, here is a quick, easy, and effective way of ensuring that the bill is enacted. Work up a 15-second “elevator” speech about the referendum, in which you clearly explain that the bill benefits not just gay and lesbian couples but all domestic partners where one of them is at least 62 years old. Emphasize that an “approved” vote is a vote to strengthen families in Washington state. Then mention the referendum to at least three of your friends and associates, explain its importance for Washington families, and finally, ask each of them to mention the referendum to three other people.

Vote for families in Washington. Vote to approve Referendum 71!

Greedy and Gullible

October 2, 2009

“A significant number of our fellow citizens are now as greedy and gullible as a boxful of puppies; they’ll believe anything; they’ll attack the empty glove; they’ll follow that plastic bone right off the cliff. Nothing about this election has changed that fact. If they’re ever activated—if the wrong individual gets to them, in other words, before the educational system does—we may live to experience a tyranny of the majority that Tocqueville never imagined.”

From A Quibble, by Mark Slouka, in Harper’s Magazine, February 2009: Notebook

A Preacher’s Epiphany

October 2, 2009

Carlton PearsonCarlton Pearson’s epiphany happened one evening as he was watching a TV documentary with his family. The documentary was about victims of war and genocide in Darfur.

Carlton was a Pentecostal preacher who believed that hell was a very real place where non-believers were destined to suffer for eternity. His fiery and passionate sermons about the wages of sin drew huge crowds into his church and made him rich and famous. He was mentored by Oral Roberts and invited to George W. Bush’s White House. But as he sat with his family watching these images of horrific suffering—the children’s bellies distended from hunger, the mutilated bodies, the nearly total lack of clean water, shelter, and medical care for those who had been displaced by the fighting—he began to wonder how a loving God could allow these people to suffer so horribly and then “just suck them into hell” because they were Muslims. He could not stop thinking about this.

Carlton experienced a conversion.

He thought and prayed about what he had been preaching and decided it was wrong. The merciful and loving god that he worshipped could not allow a place like hell to exist.

Carlton radically changed his message and began preaching a “gospel of inclusion.” God’s love was unconditional, and everyone—no matter what their sin—was going to heaven. Hell was the suffering that people experienced during their lifetimes because of pride, lust, greed, and other sins.

Unfortunately, the gospel of inclusion was not what Carlton’s congregation wanted to hear, and they began falling away. He was denounced by Oral Roberts, Ted Haggart, and other celebrity preachers who had once considered him one of their own. Roberts warned, “This doctrine is as dangerous as any I’ve come in contact with in 66 years of ministry.” Carlton lost his congregation, the church property, and a huge network of friends and supporters. Only his family and a few close friends stood by him until he found a new ministry in a radically different kind of church.

Watch Carlton Pearson’s story, “To Hell and Back,” in this four-part documentary on U-Tube. Each part lasts about 10 minutes.

“Gays should serve openly,” Says Military Journal

October 1, 2009
An article in the current issue of Joint Force Quarterly urges repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that requires gays and lesbians in the military to keep mum about their sexual orientation. The article is by Air Force Colonel Om Prakash, who currently works in the Pentagon.

Prakash concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”

Good for Prakash. Let’s have an end to foot-dragging and the Bush-style “needs-more-study” excuse. The time to repeal the ban is now.

The article reports that the ban has resulted in the loss of approximately 12,500 personnel since 1993, when it took effect. The rationale behind the law was that the presence of gays and lesbians in the ranks would undermine group cohesion and might even cause a “mass exodus” of servicemembers. But Prakash claims group cohesion has suffered significantly from the loss of so many trained personnel.

The current law, he writes, “forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve.”   

Prakash researched the gay-inclusive policies of military services in Australia, Canada, and Britain for his article. He found no evidence of any impact on military performance and reports that no “mass exodus” occurred in these countries.

Though Prakash’s article carries no official weight, it may contribute to the pressure that President Obama is now under to fulfill his campaign pledge of ending the ban on gays in the military.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, representing gay and lesbian soldiers who have been discharged, has hailed the article. Meanwhile, the conservative Center for Military Readiness continues to insist that lifting the ban will have negative effects on recruitment, morale, and unit cohesion.