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Archives – October, 2011

Housekeeping: Meet Quick Hits

By Adam BinkQuick Hits

So, Quick Hits are now live (for more on what Quick Hits are and why we created them, see this post earlier in the week). You can find them on the top right of the blog, just underneath the user menu. Sagesse, jpmassar, myself and a few others are registered to post Quick Hits and everyone’s off and running.

If you want to post, e-mail me at prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org. I need to modify something on your user account and then off you go. It’s much like posting a comment, except you can preview your post and add bolding and hyperlinks to text and such.

To comment on Quick Hits, simply comment like usual.

As usual, we’re kicking the tires on these, so feedback is welcome.

And a big thanks to our P8TT technical team at Richir Outreach for their hard work on the system.

13 Comments October 28, 2011

Sen. Gillibrand introduces Every Child Deserves a Family Act

By Adam Bink

Via e-mail:

GILLIBRAND INTRODUCES EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY ACT

 

Legislation Would Open More Loving Homes To Children By Ending Discrimination Against Adoptive Parents Based On Sexual Orientation

 

Nationwide, More Than 100,000 Children Currently Waiting To Be Adopted

 

31 States Discriminate Against LGBT Families

 

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that she will introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation that would open more homes to foster children by working with states to end discrimination against adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and there are more than 107,000 children currently waiting to be adopted, including 6,600 in New York.  LGBT couples or individuals who want to adopt or become foster parents still face discrimination in more than 30 states.

 

“New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York State has increased its foster parent pool by 128,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.”

 

“I applaud Senator Gillibrand for introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in the Senate as we look forward to celebrating National Adoption Month in November,” saidCongressman Pete Stark (D-CA).  “This legislation is about finding solid, permanent and loving homes for the 107,000 foster children waiting to be adopted.  That’s why 76 of my colleagues have joined me in sponsoring the House version.  It is time to put the best interests of children first and remove all discriminatory barriers in our child welfare system.”

 

While most states permit single LGBT parents to adopt, many do not allow LGBT couples to adopt. Currently, five states prohibit same-sex couples from adopting (Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan). There are 6 states that ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner’s children.

 

More than two dozen states remain silent on how prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents should be treated. Their lack of non-discrimination policies for same-sex couples leave children vulnerable to agencies and case workers’ biases, resulting in children being denied the benefit of placement with qualified, loving LGBT parents.

 

A 2001 University of Los Angeles study showed that LGBT couples are just as “fit, effective and successful as similar heterosexual parents.” There are two million LGBT people who have considered becoming adoptive or foster parents, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. Currently 65,000 adopted children currently live with a gay or lesbian parent. In 2008, a Williams Institute study found that more than 10,500 same-sex couples are raising over 21,000 children in New York State.

In 2010, nearly 28,000 youth nationwide “aged out” of the foster care system. Research shows that these youth are at a high risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood.

The Every Child Deserves A Family Act would prohibit an entity that receives federal assistance and is involved in adoption or foster care placements from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Congress annually invests more than $8 billion into the child welfare system, and many of these children could be adopted by LGBT couples if the bans in local jurisdictions were removed.

 

LGBT COUPLES BY REGION

Region

Number of LGBT Couples

Capital Region

2,103

Central New York

1,948

Hudson Valley

4,823

Long Island

5,245

New York City

25,906

North Country

787

Rochester/Finger Lakes Region

2,621

Southern Tier

852

Western New York

2,032

*The Williams Institute

29 Comments October 28, 2011

GLAD files brief in Gill v. OPM case

By Adam Bink

This is the case in which Judge Tauro struck down DOMA.

GLAD tells me that arguments before the Court of Appeals could take place as early as January 2012. Brief:

[scribd id=70587182 key=key-1jal2ou0oj7soki13iox mode=list]

And the Massachusetts brief:

[scribd id=70566317 key=key-2hvq36wm5j9trx80sspo mode=list]

35 Comments October 27, 2011

NOM gets why next month’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote on DOMA is important

By Adam Bink

Earlier this month, I wrote a longer piece on why building a movement for DOMA repeal, starting now, is so important. It essentially boils down to the facts that momentum matters, and being in a stronger position come 2013 matters.

In NOM’s latest e-mail blast, they get it, too:

Dear Marriage Supporter,

If you’re reading this email, I need your help today. Everyone.

San Francisco liberals like Diane Feinstein can’t stand the fact that the American people have voted to protect marriage in 31 consecutive state votes. So they are pushing a bill in Congress that would do an end run on voters, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), jeopardizing every state constitutional marriage amendment and opening the door for courts to force same-sex marriage on the entire nation.

Senate Democrats have just scheduled a hearing on Senator Feinstein’s DOMA Repeal bill. Next Thursday, November 3rd, the Judiciary Committee will debate whether to recognize same-sex marriages under federal law, at the same time eliminating protections for states that do not recognize same-sex marriages.

All ten Democrats on the 18-member Judiciary Committee have already co-sponsored Sen. Feinstein’s bill. With your help, we can let them know just how out-of-touch with reality they are. Use this link to send an email to the entire Judiciary Committee, urging them to oppose the DOMA Repeal bill.

Thanks to last November’s election, and Speaker Boehner’s stalwart defense of marriage, the DOMA Repeal bill is likely dead on arrival in the House. But it’s critical that we block it in the Senate, and not allow marriage opponents to build momentum for repeal.

Setting aside their misspelling of Sen. Feinstein’s name (it’s Dianne), it is critical that we build momentum for repeal.

If you haven’t gotten your free Dump DOMA button by becoming a small monthly donor to support our Dump DOMA campaign, do it now. Early money is like yeast for this campaign and we’re using it to fight back against NOM’s garbage. Wear it proudly to show you stand with Sen. Feinstein and what she’s trying to do, and all for just a few cups of coffee per month. And you can sign up for updates on our campaign to bring more Senators onboard.

Jeremy Hooper has more on how we are all San Franciscans, to some extent.

16 Comments October 27, 2011

DOMA: New lawsuit filed on behalf of gay and lesbian servicemembers

By Adam Bink

As noted in the comments by Greg in SLC, today a new lawsuit was filed on behalf of gay and lesbian servicemembers, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The lawsuit is being filed in district court in Boston (the same court that handed down the successful decision in Gill v. OPM). Michael Lavers from EDGE Media Network:

A group of gay and lesbian servicemembers and veterans filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a federal court in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 27.

The eight plaintiffs, who have 159 years of military service between them, maintain that DOMA specifically prohibits the military from offering their spouses the same family support and benefits that married heterosexual servicemembers automatically receive. These include on-base housing, health care, survivor benefits and burial rights at national cemeteries.

“The case we are bringing today is about one thing, plain and simple: It’s about justice for gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 27. “These couples are in long-term, committed and legally recognized marriages and the military shouldn’t be forced to turn their back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

Among the plaintiffs is Capt. Steve Hill, an Army reservist who is stationed in Iraq who submitted a YouTube question about the end of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers during a Republican presidential candidate debate in Florida last month.

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan returned to New Hampshire from Kuwait in August where she lives with her wife Karen Morgan and their four-year-old daughter. A full-time officer with the New Hampshire National Guard, Charlie Morgan was recently diagnosed with breast cancer after a recurrence. She pointed out that her inability to obtain a military identification card prevents her from taking her daughter on base to take advantage of the facilities and other services other married couples receive.

“We’re just looking to receive the same benefits and opportunities as our married heterosexual counterparts,” said Charlie Morgan as her wife stood by her side. “Time may not be on our side.”

The repeal of ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ became official on Sept. 20, but SLDN and other groups continue to stress that the end of the Clinton-era law is an important first step towards remedying long-standing inequalities against gay and lesbian servicemembers.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit a week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate a bill that would repeal DOMA. The White House announced earlier this year that it would no longer defend the Clinton-era statute, but House Republicans continue to back the law.

Retired Capt. Joan Darrah of Alexandria, Va., was a naval intelligence officer until she retired from the Navy in 2002. Seven of her colleagues died in the room in which she had been working in the Pentagon moments before American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001. Under DADT, Darrah said her partner of nearly 20 years, Lynne Kennedy, would not have been notified of her death.

The entire case filing can be found here.

15 Comments October 27, 2011

Why NOM threatens more than just LGBT Americans, and how their tactics might mean the downfall of a millennia old discipline

This post was submitted as a guest piece for publication (if you’d like to submit a guest piece at any time, please e-mail it to prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org. Make sure to include a byline, any links if you have any, and a title. If you can include everything in HTML, even better).

The post comes from Bryce, who identifies himself as a PhD student at Georgetown University whose dissertation focuses on gay and lesbian politics. Thanks for the submission Bryce! -Adam

By Bryce Myers

Recently, Jeremy Hooper posted here at Prop8TrialTracker.com on the National Organization for Marriage’s (herein: NOM) use of dubious polling methods to advance their claim that the majority of Americans actually oppose marriage equality. I agree with the issues presented on the website, and there are two reasons I take issue with NOM’s history of dubious polling. (In this post, I include an open letter I have written to NOM).

Before I discuss them, however, I want to observe one key thing: NOM’s tactics offend me—not as an activist, nor as a gay man—but as a scientist. I have dedicated my life to advancing the tradition of academics in America and scholarly integrity. NOM’s recent tactics have set this project back greatly, by infusing a worthy public discourse on the purpose and nature of marriage with what some have already likened to “academic malpractice.” In short, their dishonesty in political discourse—a tactic which is more common to authoritarian regimes than to a pluralist political society—is dangerous to those who make a career of teaching politics, and to a nation which thrives on a civil, and well-informed, political society.

Another cautionary word is that I expect that, given my personal views, some would call me biased. But this is hardly a concern given that this critique is of a group which has hired a man to do their polling who is SO biased that, when asked questions about his methodology, he refers the person doing the asking to a book he has written on Mormonism and advancing the anti-LGBT cause. However biased I may be perceived to be, I will never fail to defend my claims, nor will I attempt to defend them by essentially conceding that I cannot do so and that I am, indeed, biased. My love of a tradition as old as mankind itself will not allow me to do these things.

The first way in which we can observe NOM’s reliance on subterfuge is through a Huffington Post article, which calls into question the methodology used on a poll relied upon by Deseret News in order to claim that the majority of Americans are averse to the idea of equality. Dr. Lawrence is a fixture with the National Organization for Marriage, and his polls frequently come out with very counter-intuitive results. When people seek to understand why it is that the results seem to contradict common knowledge, they usually find one of two things. First, those persons might find that Dr. Lawrence has used the know-how of one of the best educated political scientists to undermine the goals of the discipline from which he has gotten so much. In the past, he has over-sampled segments of the population which are known to be less amenable to the LGBT rights project. This engineers results which are less favorable to LGBT persons (this is explored in greater detail below). Second, those persons might find (as the Huffington Post finds) that Lawrence, and those for whom he conducts polls, will not answer questions about his methodology. This is equally detrimental to the field of political science. I have recently noticed that it shocks people to be told that, in the scientific community, it is considered a grave faux-pas (not to mention a HUGE red-flag) when someone does not divulge their polling methodology, and/or provide their data. But this should not really be surprising. One can make or break a career on the science they conduct, and others may want to make contributions based on their results. The sheer gravity of those tests, not to mention the inevitable desire—which accompanies ground-breaking research; something that every scientist aspires to accomplish—can only mean that those results must be replicable. On the first day of class, every political science graduate student learns at least one thing: empirical research is meaningless unless you make the data available for replication. And throughout her years of study, that student will hear cautionary tale after cautionary tale of people whose careers were stopped dead in their tracks because they refused to make their data available. It is for this reason that almost every professor has a “Data” section on his or her website, where their past data is available for public use; and, every professor will provide data which they have not already made so available. That Dr. Lawrence would conduct a poll and not make the data available would, within the discipline of political science, be akin to him having never done the poll at all.

Second, even if NOM’s refusal to make their polling data fair and available did not cast doubt on the validity of their findings, it would still hurt the discipline of political science. Let’s assume for the moment that the findings are fair and accurate—an assumption which no person should make in this situation. If that IS the case, then LGBT rights groups and NOM alike should both reflexively ask the same question: Why are our polls getting different results? The only way to answer this is to pore through the data. When you have polls that ask the same question, the same way, to the same people, and get two different answers you start an arduous process of analysis. You regress, cross-tab, and dissect that data six-ways from Sunday! Who answered which way? Was one group over-sampled? Under-sampled? Did the timing of the question matter? What did they have to say about other issues? The list goes on and on. But NOM did not do this. Instead, they relied on Deseret News to just say: “Here is the data, we must be right, they must be wrong.” This makes no sense and, as a result, is not particularly compelling. In order for NOM to prove that Americans are—as they claim—allergic to the idea of LGBT persons being seen as equals, they would need to go into the data and explore it in detail. They would need to make the argument, at length, that previous polls—the preponderance of which contradicts their findings—missed something SPECIFIC which NOM has since corrected. The fact that they downplay this incredibly important process of intellectual exploration (not to mention, the equally important process of validation) is depressing to someone who has pledged to spend his life passing on the tradition of higher education in our country.

And this is not the first time NOM—and Gary Lawrence—has falsified or manipulated polling data. On February 17, 2011, while I was studying at a different institution, I wrote an open letter to Brian Brown asking him to be more ethical in his polling practices. The letter (found here) made two key assertions: 1) NOM falsely claimed bias in legitimate polls—threatening those persons’ reputations—for its own personal gain, and 2) its alternative question failed to meet basic, objective, scientific standards. NOM was push-polling. Just months later, in New York, NOM released another equally flawed poll. In this poll, they sampled a small population, which is a frequent practice for people who get their desired results and want to stop further polling, lest they find out they were mistaken. For smaller samples, the confidence intervals (two numbers, which tell us between which points we may be confident in our results) shrink, meaning that it is harder and harder to be confident in our results. Indications of error become weaker and weaker with smaller samples. In addition, NOM over-sampled older Americans, which all other polls (which they were claiming to dispute) indicated were least likely to support LGBT rights. The principle is simple, if I look at Poll A, Poll B, and Poll C, and they say that all people love kittens except a certain demographic, and then I do Poll D and only ask that demographic, then I will get the opposite result. Then, I can say “people actually HATE kittens!” NOM did just this, using their engineered results to claim that the original polls were wrong; however, if those polls HAD been wrong, then NOM’s strategic sampling would have failed. Thus, far from disputing the results of existing polls, NOM actually confirmed them by using those polls’ results as a guide on how to fudge their own results.

NOM is in a precarious place. As a social movement, they are—by all objective standards—failing. A whole host of polls indicate that a vast majority of voters (even those who oppose marriage equality) consider marriage equality to be inevitable. They have suffered stunning defeats in New York where marriage equality is now legal; in California where a bill, which they had hoped to stop, missed the deadline for petitions to send the matter to the ballot; and in Courts of Appeal who have repeatedly said that they can no longer protect secret donors who seek to circumvent the stated principles of the US Constitution. And the only recent claims of victory that they can muster regard a special election for the US House of Representative, which NOT A SINGLE academic—even those opposed to marriage equality—seem to believe had much of anything to do with the NATIONAL mood toward marriage equality. How do they deal with this? Do they do what others do when their backs are against the wall, and channel it into the energy it takes to come from behind? No. They lie. They make up polls. They engineer data. They lie to the American people, they lie to their supporters, and they lie to themselves. Indeed, if the statements they have made in the past year were made under oath, then Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher would be sporting prison jumpsuits for having committed perjury. There is no other way to say it: they have committed a sin (literally and figuratively; for a group which so frequently relies on support from the religious, one would imagine that they would be more familiar with the maxim of the Ninth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Lie”) in knowingly, and intentionally deceiving people. Any other way of describing their actions is merely sugar-coating reality.

But worse than their lying—which can be refuted through simple observations of the truth—they are setting back the project of teaching future generations. One must wonder if these means will justify the ends when NOM finds itself arguing, in the future, with a group of scientists who will simply falsify results to prove whatever point they may wish to make. NOM would, then, undoubtedly cry foul, but they would have no reason to do so. In this hypothetical, those individuals would only be holding themselves to the same standard to which NOM currently holds itself.

If NOM cannot make its argument honestly, then perhaps it is not an argument worth making. But I suspect that a man who offered torn families and victims of hate crimes hugs instead of help in changing the cultural milieu which produces them would never see things that way. Likewise, a woman who wrote a column claiming to have soul searched her way to wondering what role she plays in a society which looks down on gays and lesbians, only to contribute to it in a most acerbic way not more than a week later, would also probably not see the value in making an argument with integrity or not making it at all. But for the rest of us, NOM has failed to see that they must pass the limits of making a civil argument that contributes to the American democratic process, in order to do what they think is “right.” And, perhaps, no matter what twists and turns the fight for equality may take in the future, no step will be more crucial than the first step of observing that NOM has failed before it has even begun to fight. If we do not see things this way, the losers in this battle may well be those who value our American democratic process.

30 Comments October 26, 2011

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