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NOMsense, plain and simple (-minded)

NOM Exposed Trial analysis

By Rob Tisinai

NOM has filed an amicus brief with the 9th Circuit arguing for Prop 8. They call it “dynamite.” I call it a mess. I’ll leave the legal analysis to the lawyers, but I have to point out some of the worst bits of logic or my head will explode (hey, maybe that’s why it’s “dynamite”).

One bit made me especially crazy. NOM has a section titled:

Evidence from Massachusetts also suggests a weakening in the marriage culture following implementation of same-sex marriage.

I perked up because I haven’t heard of any ill-effects in Massachusetts. What could it be? Two things actually: misleading statistics and circular reasoning.

Misleading statistics

First, NOM relies on a claim made by the Prop 8 side:

Indeed, the Massachusetts data relied upon by the district court shows that both the divorce rate and the marriage rate actually changed for the worse from 2004 to 2007.

Really? Let’s graph the data.

marriage-divorce-MASS

  • We do see a tiny uptick in the divorce rate from 2004-2007. But 2008 and 2009 give us the lowest rates of the decade! All this data was available when they filed this brief on September 17, so why didn’t they use it?
  • We see a decline in marriage rates from 2004-2007, but (unlike the divorce rates), these numbers are within recent historical norms.

Frankly, based on these numbers, it’s hard to say ending marriage discrimination helped or hurt the “marriage culture” in Massachusetts. So what’s NOM’s other strategy?

Circular reasoning

This one’s an amazing lapse in logic. NOM provides this as evidence of harm:

In 2009, amicus curiae National Organization for Marriage commissioned a survey in Massachusetts of attitudes about marriage five years into that state’s experiment with same-sex marriage. The survey found that ?in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent.

Do you see the circle?

NOM circular

Actually, here’s a much better spin on NOM’s survey:

In states where residents have first-hand experience with married same-sex parents, the population becomes more accepting of same-sex parents. Ignorance and second-hand knowledge help opponents of same-sex parenting, while direct contact and personal experience favor proponents.

Now, to be fair, NOM does try to make an argument that a married mom and dad are the ideal, but they do so by using another form of dishonesty.

Misusing research

NOM’s brief quotes a researcher:

[F]amily structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two-biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.

As usual, there’s something missing in this litany of sub-optimal family structures: parents who adopt a child at birth. But NOM has long been willing to throw adoptive parents under the bus in order to keep gays in their place. They also claim research shows married biological parents are better than same-sex parents, using research that didn’t even look at same-sex parents. That’s a nice lead-in to the last bunch of errors I’ll look at.

Straw men and non-sequiturs

Actually, the title above isn’t strong enough to capture the essence of NOM’s brief. It’s more like a straw army marching in random directions. For instance:

The trial court rejected this first view [of marriage], asserting that procreation has never been a purpose of marriage because elderly people and infertile people have always been allowed to marry.

Really? Actually, really no. The judge didn’t claim procreation has never been a purpose of marriage, merely that it is not the sole or necessary purpose.

Here’s another one:

Reasonable people may believe that marriage promotes the state’s interest in encouraging children to be born to a mother and father who are committed both to one another and to the children their union may create.

Oooh, that one’s slick. Who’s going to say they want to discourage such a thing? We all want a child’s parents to be committed to each other. But if my mom were still alive, she’d stand up like a Mama Grizzly between NOM and my adopted brother and state in clear terms of frightening authority that a child’s real parents may not be the biological parents. So if NOM truly wanted to strengthen the commitment between parents, they’d be eager for same-sex parents to marry.

And this:

If two men are a marriage, then marriage is clearly, and in a new public way, no longer about procreation, no longer about natural parenthood, and no longer about connecting mothers and fathers to children.

Some version of “natural parent” appears three times in the brief, and “natural family” is in there twice. “Natural” is a great term: it feels so, well, natural. And of course the opposite would be “unnatural,” as in, I don’t know, “unnatural acts.” If you’re seeking out loaded words, “natural” is near the top of your list. Plus, it allows you to avoid terms with clear meaning, like “biological” and “adoptive.” That’s crucial for NOM, because we all know biological parents can be crap while adoptive parents can be a godsend.

I’d also like to point out that we can take NOM’s logic and rewrite their quote like this:

If a childless couple is allowed to adopt a baby, then marriage is clearly, and in a new public way, no longer about procreation, no longer about natural parenthood, and no longer about connecting mothers and fathers to their natural children.

And nobody’s buying that taco.

Actually NOM is obsessed with procreation. So much so that they act like nothing about children matters except procreation. Think that’s extreme? Check this out:

If same-sex unions are deemed just the same as unions of husband and wife, it becomes difficult to see how marriage could have any public relationship to its great historic task of producing families in which the mother and father who make the baby raise the baby in love together. This court will have declared that marriage is not about children; rather it is primarily about adult interests, with no particular relationship to children at all.

No particular relationship to children at all? They’re saying that if a married couple (of any sort) didn’t “make” the baby they’re raising, then their marriage has nothing to do with children. I can’t wrap my head around that.

Also notice that NOM doesn’t bother to argue that same-sex marriage will disconnect marriage from child-rearing; they merely say “it becomes difficult to see” how it wouldn’t. That’s not an argument; it’s just a confession of blindness.

Lord, lord, lord. Misleading statistics, circular reasoning, misused research, straw men, and non sequiturs. This isn’t a legal brief, it’s a horror show from Freshman English.

65 Comments

  • 1. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:49 am

    subscribing

  • 2. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:52 am

    There was an article in my local paper today that states that marriage AND procreation is down in Arizona…my first thought was, "boy am I glad they can't blame homosexuals for this." But, I am sure they are thinking somehow we are involved.

  • 3. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Oh, here is the article:
    http://azstarnet.com/news/local/article_b84a5c3e-

  • 4. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:54 am

    I heard a caller actually say on KGO a few weeks ago that the birth rate is down because god has "taken back the sperm" to punish everyone because of gay rights.

    Personally, I wish their god would do more of that. Sounds good for the environment.

  • 5. Will Fisher  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:03 am

    I wouldn't recommend that as a method of contraception…

  • 6. Rich  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    95% of Fortune 500 companies have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies. Would someone PLEASE ask our "business experience" candidates, Meg and Carly why it's good for business, but bad for the state?

    -Rich (adoptive parent of two boys taken away from their married heterosexual parents because they were ABUSED and NEGLECTED)

  • 7. bb  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    I don't know anything about "god taking back the sperm". But it would seem reasonable that the decline in birth rates has a lot to do with the mass exodus of illegal immigrants form AZ. You'll probably see a very large increase in procreation in states like New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California in the next few years.

  • 8. nightshayde  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    That just makes me wonder what god is doing with that "taken back" sperm. I'm having visions of recycling efforts gone horribly awry — and the visions aren't pretty.

  • 9. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Well, they apparently need to spend money, I have a feeling they got in trouble with the IRS for 2009 taxes.

    John DiStaso's Granite Status: Conservative groups return to NH airwaves, this time targeting Lynch

    The same two conservative groups that had a hand in damaging Republican Bill Binnie's U.S. Senate campaign with hard-hitting television and radio ads are turning their sights on Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

    The Status has learned today that Cornerstone Action and the National Organization for Marriage will spend $425,000 over a two-week period beginning Monday on a 30-second television ad hammering the governor on key issues.

    Article: http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=

  • 10. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:33 am

    I am truly hoping P8TT throws us a bone about the Jelly Belly tour stop. I am now checking out everyone else's feed to see what happened.

  • 11. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Please post if you find something…….. I can't stand this suspense.

  • 12. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I just found this on their twitter site:

    Getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the JellyBelly factory! They talked about the support of President Reagan! http://twitpic.com/2t48t3

  • 13. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Here is their pic of the tour bus in front of Jelly Belly
    http://twitpic.com/2t48t3

  • 14. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:40 am

    lol – more more caffeine!

  • 15. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:40 am

    I hope that "behind the scenes tour" they're bragging about is simply the regular Jelly Belly tour and not something they're getting because they are so ….. special.

  • 16. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Boy Fights Bullying for the Right to Cheer
    http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/boy-fight

  • 17. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Hmmm……. the "support of President Reagan" was for the Jelly Bellies, of course. This tweet makes it sound as though somehow Reagan supports the "tour" cause.

  • 18. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:02 am

    More nonsensical illusions and delusions, courtesy of the lead NOMbies.

  • 19. Ann S.  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Sub-subscribing.

  • 20. Ronnie  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Subscribing to where the amazing Rob Tisinai…..exposes the NOMsense from the National Organization for Misinformation…… ; ) …Ronnie

  • 21. Cat  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:06 am

    I'm starting to think that fundamentalism is a serious mental health condition in the official medical sense. False beliefs, irrational fear, impaired judgment, impervious to reason. I'm sure that delivering their message to the world boosts their primal emotions and sets off some unhealthy chemicals in their body to which they get addicted similar to an adrenalin high. In NOMs case that is combined with rapidly growing funding which probably is turning them into little Madoffs, thinking they can get away with everything. They might very well believe deeply in what they say.

    Either that or they are just pure scam artists, and this tour and all their other actions are just calculated ways to stretch the window of opportunity of raking in donor money. That means they will just say anything that helps their cause.

    Either way, me worry…

  • 22. Eric  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:09 am

    I'm confused, is NOM arguing that Joseph was a bad parent, because he was not the biological father of Jesus, or is NOM arguing that by accepting the Incarnation of Christ, all lesbian couples are capable of procreation?

  • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Just watched….so glad word is getting out to LET PEOPLE BE WHO THEY ARE. These kids are getting the message from parents and society being the only guy cheerleader is wrong, breaking the norm and must be punished.

    I wonder how far extremist groups will go as equality of marriage is allowed in all states? Start breaking arms…taking up arms…KKK-like groups start forming?

  • 24. AndrewPDX  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:15 am

    I think they're both, which makes me even more scared — and scarred.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 25. Rick  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Seriously, just how much credence does the 9th Circuit Court (or any court) "Cheerios, anyone?" he said Glee-fully) to stir the various factions of fans in the stands.

  • 26. Rick  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Sorry, my previous post lost some lines…

    Seriously, just how much credence does the 9th Circuit Court (or any court) give to amicus briefs? It seems more like cheerleading (“Cheerios, anyone?” he said Glee-fully) to stir the various factions of fans in the stands.

  • 27. Bob  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:18 am

    cheers for Tyler, thanks for standing up, keep your mom informed on what's going down, hope you can find some friends to support you and watch out for you,

    WOOT WOOT TO TYLER

  • 28. Chris in Lathrop  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:21 am

    I just love how this "just and righteous" god of theirs punishes indiscriminately. Fundies… I don't get 'em.

  • 29. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:23 am

    And NOM will take credit for that too BB.

  • 30. Chris in Lathrop  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:25 am

    @Kate: I went on this tour a couple years ago with my wife, and they got the standard tour. And likely the free packet of JBs that comes with it. Their spin is just more lies.

  • 31. Alan E  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:26 am

    I need to actually work today.

  • 32. Ronnie  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:26 am

    This reminds of one of my favorite scenes from "Legally Blonde":

    Elle: For that matter, any masturbatory emissions, where the sperm is clearly not seeking an egg, could be termed reckless abandonment.

    Professor Callahan: You've just won your case.

    <3 & a ; ) ……Ronnie

  • 33. Kathleen  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:29 am

    subscribing and hoping that I can get something done today because it's going to be 'only' 93F today.

  • 34. Cat  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Must be the first. See what happened to Jesus, all a result of Joseph's bad parenting.

    But wait, perhaps it's the second, and NOM is secretly trying to protect lesbian mothers from invariably having to lose their child due to an oppressive government and angry mobs of people unwilling to believe the miracle of immaculate conception.

  • 35. Cat  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Now me worry even more…

  • 36. Chris B  |  September 29, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Good article. The "children" argument, for some reason, reminds me of that old joke: A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg.

    They keep pushing that the only reason people get married is so they can have children. The only reason people SHOULD get married is so they can produce children. What about love and companionship? What about sharing and spending your life with someone you love and care about? What sad marriages they NOM supporters must have.

    There is an article that connects the lower marriage rate on the recession: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2010/0

    And, same sex marriages increase marriage rate in Iowa: http://iowaindependent.com/39788/same-sex-couples

    (I think there's a typo towards the end of the article. You wrote: "…they act like nothing about children matters except procreation.", I think you meant to write "…nothing about MARRIAGE matters except procreation.")

  • 37. Alan E.  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Great read Rob. I still need to pick another brief to tear apart. I unfortunately (for y'all) am going to the Giants game tonight (we got some free tickets at work!), have class tomorrow night, and volunteering Friday night. I'll use the time to sharpen my teeth.

  • 38. Richard W. Fitch  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Another insightful article and great comments. KUDOS!! to all. The people who are writing these skreeds for the gNOMes are indeed incredibile wordsmiths. It's just a shame that they aren't using their skills in more constructive (and integritious) efforts.

  • 39. Ann S.  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:34 am

    We'll look forward to it, Rob! Need to borrow a file to sharpen your teeth?

  • 40. Rhie  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Watching…

  • 41. Rhie  |  September 29, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Heh, maybe a NOMbie would say that they sold their soul to the devil (by allowing the gay agenda take over) and he gave them great wealth.

  • 42. Rhie  |  September 29, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Well, you've heard of Christian militias…

  • 43. Ķĭŗîļĺę&  |  September 29, 2010 at 6:04 am

    I was always “marveling” at the incredibly dumb argument that procreation is the imperative purpose of marriage.  This notion is not only wrong (at least because animals do not seem to need marriage in order to procreate), but it's also insulting!  Think about it: by saying that, they imply everybody gets married for only one reason — to have children, to procreate, to make sure humans do not die out.

    What about everything else?  What about love?  What about commitment to one another?  What about intimate relationship between two people?  What about having that special person, the witness of your life of whom you want to take care and who you want to love and cherish for the rest of your lives together?  Are we just mindless animals whose sole purpose of existence is making sure the species makes it on this planet?

    If NOMbies want to define their marriages as procreation mini-farms where the father is the provider of sperm and the mother is the provider of uterus and milk for the young, I suppose they have the right to do that, those are their lives and their marriages.  But we don't have to comply with their insulting definitions, we are free to define our marriages with inclusion of all those things that make us human (after all, marriage is a purely human institution).  And I, for one, do not like them for implying I am less than human and the purpose of my life is to replenish the population.

    This is insulting not only for gay families, but also for straight ones.  Neither of us can honestly allow them to diminish our marriages!  We're not mini-farms for procreation!  We're people with rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!  And no one can take that away from us!

    — ♂KF

  • 44. Sagesse  |  September 29, 2010 at 6:22 am

    And again

  • 45. Jonathan H  |  September 29, 2010 at 6:39 am

    just subscribing, nothing to see here

  • 46. JonT  |  September 29, 2010 at 7:07 am

    nano-subscribing on my way out the door

  • 47. sue jeffers  |  September 29, 2010 at 7:30 am

    it sounds like their script writer at some point lost a custody battle , grew up in an orphanarium , or never got over their parent's divorce (etc) and is obsessing over something they feel they have missed out on. reminds me of my sister's ex inlaws, who responded to news that she was divorcing their abusive & cheating son by saying it was against god to divorce – and 'look at us, we've hated each other for years but we're still together.'

    add in some hatred , ignorance and fear………

  • 48. Alan E.  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:28 am

    hehe:

    orphanarium

    <3 Futurama

  • 49. Dave  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

    How long before NOM brings up the slippery slope that first Canada approves same-sex marriage and now they are making prostitution legal?

  • 50. Lesbians Love Boies  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Canadian judge strikes down prostitution law

    Key provisions of Canada's prostitution law were struck down Tuesday by an Ontario judge who said they endangered the people they were meant to protect.

    Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel sided with three sex workers who argued that prostitution restrictions in Canada's Criminal Code forced them onto the streets to conduct business under threats of arrest and violence.

    full story: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/09/29/Canada-Prosti

  • 51. Chris B  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Well said!

  • 52. Chris B  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:37 am

    any second now.

  • 53. Rhie  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I think you are right. Projection, religious repression and (no better word for it) brainwashing plus ignorance and fear…

    That's an incredibly powerful combination

  • 54. Bob  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I wasn't going to mention that, but it is being heralded as emancipation for prostitutes, In ontario the law banning prostitution was declared unconstituional, now the province will appeal.

    But the liberal minded are considering it as protecting the life and liberty of those engaged in that profession, many see it as a move in the right direction, a progressive move.

    A way of ending the deaths of many who are forced to the streets and back allies. it's to save lives. It says even womn who practice this trade are of value as humans.

    We need a law like that to protect our kids from bullying in the schools, we need a law that values the lives of gay youth.

    Of course the religious right will force the gov't to appeal cause it's against their definition of what God wants. but hopefully the majority will support the fact that God befriended prostitutes even in those bible stories.

    I'm proud of my country, and hope we can continue to improve on our ability to support and value diversity.

    There tends to be a direct correlation between those countries that are able to distance themselves from religious reicht, and the ability to enjoy the pursuit of happiness of it's people.

    And to further clarify that happiness does not come from approving of certain behaviors, that some enjoy, but rather by not judging those behaviors as any less worthy of protection. In such a way prostituion will still have no impact on people who do not participate , but we can take comfort in knowing they are protected.

    Don't forget our famous Piction trial, in Vancouver , the pig farmer who murdered near fifty or so street workers, they went unnoticed because they were the most vulnerable in our society, working in back allelys to feed drug habits, for years they went unnoticed as they disappeared one by one, These women were of no value, if it had been a mayor's wife who was reported missing there would have been investigation, but these women where no good drug addict prostitutes.

    There is an ongoing investigation into the police handling of those reported missing.

    Very smilar to our missing youth, mormon boys who run away, work the streets, gay youth being bullied in schools till they commit suicide, They're seen as disposable. The church says the law should remain and those people deserve their death.

    Heck Picton even recylced some of the women, sending body parts to the rendering plant.

    Changing a law could prevent that in the future.

  • 55. Bennett  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:17 am

    RE: "Evidence from Massachusetts also suggests a weakening in the marriage culture following implementation of same-sex marriage."

    I guess nom has commissioned the development of a "marriage culture (yogurt anyone?) scale" and assessed reliably (and without bias) the past level of the "marriage culture" indicators as well as the current level of the "marriage culture" indicators and found that the "marriage culture" indicators have moved in the direction that their scale represents to be "weak."

    No, I think it is NOM that is suggesting that marriage culture is weakened by Massachusett's implementation of same-sex marriage. And who better to know than the "National" "Organization" "for" "Marriage"? Duh!

  • 56. Will Fisher  |  September 29, 2010 at 10:13 am

    “Every sperm is sacred,
    every sperm is great.
    When a sperm gets wasted,
    God gets quite irate…”

  • 57. Kate  |  September 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Ah yes, the sin of Onan, who spread his “seed” while trying to prevent conception by pulling out…….

  • 58. CaliGirl  |  September 29, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for analyzing some of NOM’s logic fail, Rob! And with pictures too! :)

  • 59. Ray in MA  |  September 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I AM Massachusetts…

    and LIFE is getting better and better.

    No one (NOM) has asked me about life in a state where Marriage Equality is recognized.

    Thirty years with my husband/partner.

    From thinking we'd never see the day… to making our legal.civil marriage commitments in the living room of our own home…

    U.S. of America is recogizing us… slowly but SURELY.

    My heart bursts and apprecaites all of you who have helped bring us to TODAY. My heart aches for those of you who have to wait.

    Joining the P8TT community has convinced me that you will ALLl see the Day… and see it unfold before you. Don't give up, it's worth waiting (and fighting) for.

  • 60. Dave  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Off topic, sort of — in regards to amicus briefs, I assume that Courage Campaign will file one, as well HRC and the likes. Are the P8TT people here going to put something together as well (I dont really understand the procedure and who can file them, so sorry if it is a stupid question!). I am sure that many of the people who post here can do MUCH better than the ones I have seen from the other side. Even with my lack of legal knowledge I can see the problems in the ones supporting the Proponents of Prop 8.

  • 61. Michael  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Once again, the ends justifies the means for the large anti-gay pressure group NOM. This includes lying and exagerating in order to use Big Government to impose their "religious beliefs" on the rest of us. If having married, committed parents is good for children of heterosexuals, it's also good for children of gay families, period.

  • 62. Wade@MacMorrighan.Ne  |  September 30, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Hey guys… Actually, if no one's heard of it, yet, and to add something to this article: Maggie has declared that marriage is not about the couple involved at all, that they really have no rights in terms of marriage ("alleged rights" is how she mitigates it!), while declaring that the rights of unborn children, even if a couple never intends to conceive–even accidentally–supersede the Will of the couple involved to acquire a Civil Marriage License and have a JOP officiate!

    I bet that if you expressed this to heterosexuals, they'd become OFFENDED at the mere thought!

  • 63. Mark  |  October 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Is not the NOM just a Mormon front group? Well it's kind of poetic justice that they try to seem so concerned about 1 man,1 women families, when their alleged prophet Joseph Smith was a convicted con-artist/grifter, who forced 33 different women to marry him, so he could have his own private brothel. Some of the women were as young as 14 and many where already married to other men! This man was a criminal and pervert, yet the Mormons think he was a prophet of God. The foundation of the Mormon church is really built on quicksand….

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