I went quiet here last week as I prepared for and headed off to a conference; now that I’m crawling out from under that rock, I’m amazed at just how much went down while I was away.
1. Most gratifying was Reagan-appointed federal judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in DeBoer v. Snyder, ending Michigan’s ban on gay marriage (pending the inevitable appeals). Friedman’s treatment of Mark Regnerus and his worthless, expensive, and too-influential NFSS study was particularly noteworthy:
The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 “study” was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it “essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society” and which “was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.”
Additionally, the NFSS is flawed on its face, as it purported to study “a large, random sample of American young adults (ages 18-39) who were raised in different types of family arrangements,” but in fact it did not study this at all, as Regnerus equated being raised by a same-sex couple with having ever lived with a parent who had a “romantic relationship with someone of the same sex” for any length of time. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this “study,” he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general and reaffirmed the aforementioned APA position statement.
Note the scare quotes around the word “study.”
Besides being fun to read, I think this means Regnerus’ work, which has been cited in anti-equality court briefs and brought up in state legislative debates, is finally D-E-A-D. It would take serious stupidity for gay marriage opponents to keep pulling it out now.
2. Fred Phelps died. When the members of his church tried to protest a Lorde concert in Kansas, “counter-protesters” held signs expressing condolence.* Both Timothy Kincaid at boxturtebulletin.com and Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon connected this act of kindness to another, more amusing recent incident. It turns out that Catholic League president Bill Donohue, trying to make a point against LGBT groups that were seeking to march in St. Patrick’s Day parades in NY and Boston, applied to march in New York’s Gay Pride parade with a banner proclaiming “Straight is Great.” Kincaid writes:
But, of course, we don’t hate straight people. And we agree, straight actually is great – just like gay and bisexual. And, though Donahue probably didn’t know it, many many straight people – Catholics, even – happily march in the parade each year to show their support for the community. Heck, some Catholic churches even have delegations.
“So,” Kincaid reports, “the organizers immediately said yes.”
3. Donohue, of course, started looking for a way to back out, and settled on complaining that the parade organizers require participants to attend training sessions about start times, logistics, etc. He shamelessly called these info meetings “gay training sessions,” to which Williams responded, brilliantly:
Do those sessions include tips on how to be classy and compassionate when a homophobic bully dies? Do they include information on how to be welcoming and inclusive when some jerkwad who blames gays for the sex abuse in his own church tries to crash your biggest party of the year? Because if so, I think we’ve all already had a few stellar gay training sessions in the past week. They’ve shown us how to respond to hate and fear with love and humor and positivity. And if there’s an agenda there, sign us all up.
And with that, I think we can also connect these two incidents, regarding Phelps and Donohue, to the Michigan trial. Because the plaintiffs in that trial, a lesbian couple seeking the ability to jointly adopt the special-needs children they’re already raising, could give us all lessons, too. According to everyone involved in the case, they are exemplary parents. So not only did they put the state in the absurd position of seeking to damage an exemplary family in the name of upholding an imaginary “gold standard;” they actually gave us a real, living gold standard, a model for words like love and family.
And, now, justice:
*By the way, Bill Lindsey also has an amazing reflection on Phelps’ death.