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Is NOM lying to you (again?)

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

NOM isn’t the most truthful bunch on the planet. And it’s almost sad, because their lapses are so damn easy to spot. Here’s their expert Jennifer Roback Morse, blogging just before the appeal hearing started. She’s saying our star attorneys, Olson and Boies, had a responsibility during the trial to explain why previous federal precedents (against marriage equality) didn’t apply to their case:

Olsen and Boies didn’t do that. Judge Walker didn’t do that. They didn’t even mention Baker v Nelson, Adams v Howerton and a host of state and district court rulings around the country.

Baker v Nelson is a case from 1972: the Supreme Court left in place a lower-court verdict denying same-sex marriage rights. Our opponents invoke Baker to say Judge Walker had no business taking the current case in the first place, and his disregard for Baker is proof of his pro-gay bias.

Now here’s Morse advancing that claim, saying Walker, Olson, and Boise didn’t even mention Baker.


Actually, no. I knew Morse was wrong, so I Googled Baker Nelson Judge Walker. Here’s what I found in Judge Walker’s ruling against our opponents’ motion for summary judgment:

Page Reference to Baker v Nelson
7 – 8 Judge Walker brings up Baker, and Cooper (the other side’s attorney) acknowledges this is the only case that might offer complete grounds for dismissing the complaint
9 Cooper starts talking about Baker but get sidetracked.
17 Judge Walker brings the court’s attention back to Baker. And Cooper gets sidetracked again.
34 – 38 Judge Walker brings the court’s attention back to Baker again. Cooper finally stays on track and makes his points.
40 – 43 Judge Walker asks Olson (one of our attorneys) to address Baker. Olson does so.
59 Olson addresses Baker again without being prompted.
73 Judge Walker mentions Baker in his decision not to dismiss the case in summary judgment.
75 – 79 Judge Walker explains why he does not find Baker to be binding in this case.
90 Judge Walker officially declares Baker to be insufficient grounds to dismiss the case.

Not only does Judge Walker mention Baker, he repeatedly brings it up and asks both sides to comment on it. Baker comes up in the closing arguments, too (page 2986), when Walker asks Olson about Baker and Olson responds.

Here’s a word of advice for Morse, though: when you falsely accuse someone of egregious misdeeds, you only end up convicting yourself.

One last note: I merely wondered whether Morse is lying because there is another explanation. Perhaps she merely devoted a blog entry to something so untrue — not just untrue, but easy to check on, as well — because she lacks basic knowledge and research skills. I wouldn’t be surprised. Apart from Maggie Gallagher herself, the NOM team strikes me a bunch of Keystone Kops. When she reviews the troops, I imagine poor Maggie spends a lot of her time doing face palms — do you think?

Image from dancerher at

83 Comments December 7, 2010

NOM’s Rhode Island strategy: Incoherence

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

Christopher Plante, who heads up NOM’s Rhode Island franchise, says:

The National Organization for Marriage- Rhode Island is disappointed that Governor-elect Chafee… refuses to listen to the voice of over 80% of Rhode Islanders who want the right to vote on marriage. It is clear that Governor-elect Chafee intends to put fringe issues and radical politics over saving Rhode Islanders jobs and securing a prosperous future for our State.  NOM – Rhode Island will work with Rhode Islanders to demand their right to vote on marriage, and demand that the Governor-elect sticks to the business of getting Rhode Island back on the right economic track.  We are confident that the majority of Assembly-women and men know there are more important things to deal with and we will support their efforts to push for a referendum. [emphasis added]

Wait — did NOM just call same-sex marriage a fringe issue? Does that mean NOM considers itself a fringe group?

NOM-RI’s blog offers this:

Rhode Island’s recovery from its economic disaster is forecast to lag well behind the rest of the country.  In these dire fiscal conditions Governor-elect Chafee and the new Rhode Island Assembly must focus all of their energy on saving our State’s economy.  Gridlock inducing social experiments such as homosexual-marriage will only bog down our government and take away from the energy and ideas needed to bring Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders back to prosperity.

This is particularly crucial given the economic morass that Rhode Island still faces; this is no time to bog down our State government with an issue that impacts less than 5 percent of the population.

Let me see if I can sum up NOM’s position:

Same-sex marriage is a fringe issue affecting only a tiny fraction of Rhode Island’s population, so instead of having the State Assembly deal with it we’ll open it up for a vote by the entire population of the state, because a state-wide ballot with campaigns and stump speeches and television commercials and millions of dollars in fundraising is the best way to direct energy and ideas away from same-sex marriage and toward creating jobs in Rhode Island.

That’s utterly incoherent.  Given the history of such initiatives, it makes no sense to argue that —

Oh.  Wait.  Did I just mention something about “millions of dollars in fundraising”?

Suddenly NOM’s Rhode Island strategy makes a bunch more sen$e.

115 Comments November 25, 2010

NOM (accidentally) argues for same-sex marriage

A different version of this was cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

The Ruth Institute (NOM’s youth group) has a new money making scheme outreach project called, “”77 Non-religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage”:

This pamphlet offers 77 incontrovertible statements in support of Natural Marriage, all of which defend the premise without delving into ‘religious’ themes.

What a ludicrous straw-man title. By definition, people who believe in marriage equality support “Man/Woman” marriage exactly as much as same-sex marriage.  What part of “marriage equality” does NOM not understand?

The Ruth Institute is offering 25 of these pamphlets for just $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. I have opted not to take advantage of this deal.

But I have looked at their promotional excerpt:  based on reason 60 – By the time the activists are finished, there will be nothing left of marriage but a government registry of friendships – I do not believe the word incontrovertible means what they think it means.

Reasons 61 through 65, though, caught my eye because every one of them could be used to advocate banning adoption.

Just look. I’ve got the Ruth Institute’s language in the left column, and I’ve adapted it ever so slightly on the right.

Ban SSM Ban Adoption
Man/woman marriage is the institution that attaches mothers and fathers to their children. Same sex marriage transforms marriage into an institution that separates children from at least one of their parents Man/woman marriage is the institution that attaches mothers and fathers to their children. Adoption transforms marriage into an institution that separates children from at least one of their parents
Same sex marriage opens the door to children having more than 2 legal parents, as it has in Canada. Adoption opens the door to children having more than 2 legal parents, as it has in Canada.
Same sex marriage routinely places biological parents on the same legal footing with adults who have no genetic relationship to the child. Adoption routinely places biological parents on the same legal footing with adults who have no genetic relationship to the child.
Same sex marriage eliminates the legal principle that biology is the primary means of establishing parental rights and responsibilities. Adoption eliminates the legal principle that biology is the primary means of establishing parental rights and responsibilities.
Some other principle must take the place the biological principle. That principle will be the state assignment of parental rights and responsibilities. Some other principle must take the place the biological principle. That principle will be the state assignment of parental rights and responsibilities.

Actually, the Ban Adoption column rings truer than the Ban SSM column, to my ears at least.

Of course, NOM doesn’t want to ban adoption.  In fact, the pamphlet’s author, Jennifer Roback Morse, has an adopted child.  One possible explanation for this seeming hypocrisy is that Morse so needs to discriminate against us that she’s simply blind to the implications of her own thinking.  I wish we could do two things:

Point out that reality does not validate her thinking: These warnings about same-sex marriage apply equally to adoption, yet adoption hasn’t destroyed the American family – so your warnings have no real-world support.

Demand some intellectual integrity: Given the similarities to adoption in your SSM analysis, why do you support one and oppose the other?

Actually, as far as NOM’s attitude toward adoptive parents is concerned, I’m giving them way too much credit.  They have a long and offensive history of denigrating such families.  It turns out that this “77 Reasons” pamphlet continues that tradition.  Look at the other excerpt they have online.

The only way this makes sense – to the extent it makes sense at all – is if NOM’s definition of “parent” means “biological parent only.”  What happens to this piece when we acknowledge that adoptive parents count as parents, too?  Break it down:

Jennifer Roback Morse says… An adoptive parent would reply…
Look at marriage from the child’s point of view. Not every marriage produces children. But every child has parents. Tell that to children in foster care and institutions.
Every child is entitled to a relationship with both parents. Then let’s make sure children have parents, be they biological or adoptive.
Every child is entitled to know and be known by both parents. Um, that’s just a weaker version of your previous statement.
No child can possibly protect these entitlements on his or her own. Okay…
Adult society must protect the child’s right to affiliation with both parents. Okay…
Adult society must protect these rights through prevention of harm, not through restitution after the fact. Okay…what does this have to do with same-sex marriage?
Man/woman marriage is the institution adult society uses to proactively protect the rights of all children to affiliation with both parents. NO!  Marriage –  opposite sex and same-sex – is the institution society uses to create stable and safe families for kids.
Same sex marriage changes marriage from a child-centered institution to an adult-centered institution. Huh?  Didn’t you mean: Same-sex marriage allows more children to enjoy the benefits of having two loving parents.

See?  Once you acknowledge that adoptive parents are real parents, the whole line of reasoning turns into an argument for marriage equality.

Here’s the funny thing: NOM/Ruth is using these excerpts to show how fabulous the pamphlet is.  You can only wonder what a mess they made of the rest of it.

77 Comments November 15, 2010

NOM: The people your (Founding) Fathers warned you about

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

NOM has defeated all three of the valiant Iowa State Supreme Court justices up for retention, justices who voted to uphold basic rights for all citizens regardless of popular sentiment.

It’s a big win for NOM. It’s a huge blow to the Constitution and the form of government created by our Founding Fathers.

Maggie Gallagher wouldn’t say so, of course.

Here we have an openly gay (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) federal judge substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers, who I promise you, would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution.

Yeah, they’d be shocked, but only because they understood so little about gays, lesbians, and same-sex relationships. What would shock them, too, though, is NOM’s thoroughly unAmerican rhetoric and behavior toward Iowa’s judges.

Conservatives (and Tea Partiers in particular) constantly invoke the Federalist Papers to explain the government our Founders intended. So let’s look at #78, which sets out the philosophy behind an independent judiciary. We’ll find three points that NOM would rather keep hidden [emphasis added in all quotes below].

1. Judges have a duty to declare laws invalid if they violate the Constitution

A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

2. Judges have a duty to protect the rights of minorities

But it is not with a view to infractions of the Constitution only, that the independence of the judges may be an essential safeguard against the effects of occasional ill humors in the society. These sometimes extend no farther than to the injury of the private rights of particular classes of citizens, by unjust and partial laws. Here also the firmness of the judicial magistracy is of vast importance in mitigating the severity and confining the operation of such laws. It not only serves to moderate the immediate mischiefs of those which may have been passed, but it operates as a check upon the legislative body in passing them; who, perceiving that obstacles to the success of iniquitous intention are to be expected from the scruples of the courts, are in a manner compelled, by the very motives of the injustice they meditate, to qualify their attempts.

3. Judges (especially at the highest levels) should not be subject to a vote by the people

That inflexible and uniform adherence to the rights of the Constitution, and of individuals, which we perceive to be indispensable in the courts of justice, can certainly not be expected from judges who hold their offices by a temporary commission. Periodical appointments, however regulated, or by whomsoever made, would, in some way or other, be fatal to their necessary independence. If the power of making them was committed either to the Executive or legislature, there would be danger of an improper complaisance to the branch which possessed it; if to both, there would be an unwillingness to hazard the displeasure of either; if to the people, or to persons chosen by them for the special purpose, there would be too great a disposition to consult popularity, to justify a reliance that nothing would be consulted but the Constitution and the laws.

Let’s be very clear on that last point: When the people can vote on a judge’s tenure, judges will be so tempted to base their decisions on popularity that they can’t be counted on to uphold the Constitution.

Compare that to the strategy laid out by NOM’s Brian Brown:

Many people that have commented on what we’re going through right now, especially with the Proposition 8 case in California, are looking at the Iowa judicial retention election – and even though there are many important elections about the country – they’re actually saying this is the most important election because it will send a clear signal to the Supreme Court and other judges that they don’t have the right to make up the law out of thin air. Their job is to interpret the law, it is not to be out robed masters and judicial activists imposing their will on the rest of us. And so if the people of Iowa do what I think they’ll do and stand up and remove these judges, there will be reverberations throughout the country all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The National Organization for Marriage is exactly what the Founding Fathers warned us against.

  • NOM is a radical organization, not a conservative one.
  • NOM wants to butcher the balance of power set up by our Founding Fathers, not restore it.
  • NOM wants to subvert the Constitution, not uphold it.

NOM’s actions constantly violate their rhetoric. They claim they’re protecting children, but deny family protections to the children of same-sex couples. They claim marriage law should be up to a vote by the citizens of each state, but push a federal marriage amendment that would deny citizens that vote. And now, while invoking the Founding Fathers, they pursue a political strategy in exact opposition to what the Founders intended.

Is there any principle avowed by NOM that they won’t violate, as long as it hurts the gays?

115 Comments November 4, 2010

Suicide, responsibility, and the teenaged brain

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

Anti-gay activists want to duck responsibility for anti-gay bullying and teen suicide. They occasionally veer into sheer lunacy, as when they claim gay teens are in despair because society is too accepting of homosexuality. But there’s one dodge I find particularly offensive. From the comments on NOM’s Facebook page:

The only people responsible for the suicides are the people that comitted them.

Nobody forces anyone to take his own life; ergo, only those who commit suicide are responsible.

Each person is responsible 4 their own actions. U make believe u r gay. God did not make u gay & He does not make u commit sucicide. nor does anyone else

I don’t know if gay is always a choice, or not. But suicide is ALWAYS a choice. The ultimate cop-out.

To be fair, I don’t see this from polished anti-gay leaders. But it’s all over the comments on their web pages and blogs. It’s a strange argument coming from conservatives, who generally believe teenagers require strict discipline and are still learning to make wise decisions. They think a 15-year-old like Billy Lucas can’t handle alcohol, a car, the vote, or serving in the military, but he’ll have no trouble hearing that in the core of his being he’s an abomination, a pervert, an affront to God.

We have good reason not to trust kids to their own judgment when it comes to the big stuff. The human brain isn’t mature until it’s 23 to 25 years old. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists are now able to track blood flow — and therefore activity — in the brains of adults and teens as they confront information and solve problems. The science is new, but some differences are clear:

Between childhood and adulthood, the brain’s “wiring diagram” becomes richer, more complex and more efficient, especially in the brain’s frontal lobe, or front outer mantle, which is the seat of such higher order functions as learning and socialization. An important part of the frontal lobes is the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is often referred to as the “CEO” or executive of the brain and is responsible for such skills as setting priorities, organizing plans and ideas, forming strategies, controlling impulses, and allocating attention. New research suggests that the PFC is one of the last areas of the brain to fully mature…

[O]ne key MRI study found that when identifying emotions expressed on faces, teens more often activated their amygdala—the brain area that experiences fear, threat and danger— whereas adults more often activated their prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain linked more to reason and judgment—and performed better on the task. Behaviorally, the adult’s responses were more intellectual, the teens’ more from the gut. These findings and others suggest that although the plasticity and changeability of the adolescent brain are extremely well suited to meet the demands of teen life, guidance from parents and other adult institutions are essential while decision-making circuitry is being formed.

Impulse control, planning and decisionmaking are largely frontal cortex functions that are still maturing during adolescence…[O]ne reason adolescents may have difficulty inhibiting inappropriate impulses is that the circuitry needed for such control is not fully mature in early adolescence, thereby making such tasks relatively difficult.

In short, kids have less impulse control than adults, and they listen to their gut when processing emotional cues.

Adults: prefrontal cortex

Teens: amygdala
Imagine then that you’re a gay teen, and you’re watching this Jimmy Swaggart broadcast with your parents, who have demonized gays all your life. Look at Swaggart’s face as he speaks. Take in his “emotional cues.” Hear your parents murmuring “Mm hmm. That’s right.”

Imagine reacting from your gut, not your intellect. Imagine your brain has only limited impulse control.

Imagine all that — as the only life you know.

Click to watch Jimmy Swaggart on what he’d do if a gay man looked at him “that way.”

Maggie Gallagher wants to know if she has blood on her hands. Jimmy Swaggart. Peter Sprigg. Tony Perkins. Bryan Fischer. Linda Harvey. Whether you’re calling us an abomination, or phrasing it more gently (like Maggie) and merely saying we can never feel the love that a man and a woman can. You all have blood on your hands.

53 Comments November 4, 2010

The tragic suicide of Alan Turing

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

Alan Turing was a brilliant English mathematician who helped the Allies win World War II.

Working as a cryptographer at the now famous Bletchley Park complex he used his incredible focus and intelligence to crack the seemingly impossible codes of the German Enigma Machine. By locking himself in his room for days at a time he managed to reverse engineer the Enigma Machine — a stroke of pure genius that allowed the British and their allies to anticipate attacks and other vital information, changing the course of the war.

He’s also known as the father of computer science. Time named him one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

[E]veryone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.

Alan Turing was gay. He killed himself on June 8, 1952, by eating a bite of an apple laced with cyanide. But why? We’ve seen a lot of theories from the right on why gay kids are killing themselves. Could any of them apply?

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association might say it’s because society was pushing too hard for people to be gay:

It must be pointed out that homosexual activists are not wholly innocent in these tragedies either. Homosexuals cannot reproduce so they must recruit. Part of the agenda of groups like GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) is to urge students at younger and younger ages to come out and declare a disordered sexual preference. Sexually confused youth are pressured into locking into a sexual identity far before they are mature enough to do so.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council might argue that society was too accepting of homosexuality:

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., said the rash September suicides by gays might be linked to the students believing they were born gay. “That creates hopelessness,” he said. “It is more loving and compassionate to say you don’t have to be gay for the rest of your lives.”

His colleague Tony Perkins might back him up:

Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal–yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are “born gay” and can never change. This–and not society’s disapproval–may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide.

Could Turing have killed himself because homosexuality was illegal in Britain?

Could he have done it because police discovered his sexual orientation while investigating a burglary of his home, and he was convicted of gross indecency?

Could it have been because in order to avoid a prison term he submitted to chemical castration by the government via female hormones?

No, of course not. As Tony Perkins makes clear, society’s disapproval does not cause suicide. Alan Turing must have killed himself because Britain was just too damn accepting.

52 Comments October 31, 2010

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