The dynamic duo is back, and admit it, you missed us! Peterson and Zack fill you in on all the crazy fun stuff that’s been happening in their lives, Peterson brings us some more queer erotic poetry, and then the two launch into a roundtable on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Prop 8, Trans Day of […]
I’m frustrated. I probably shouldn’t even be writing, but I am. It’s Monday. What’s the big news in the LGBT world? Kind of two biggies I guess… 1) Those crazy Prop 8 proponents filed their 134-page argument to the Circuit of Appeals. I could wade through the whole thing for you if you’d like, but […]
She graced the pages of Glamour magazine. She stunned the nation on Good Morning America. She helped launch a movement (Beyond Ex-Gay) and NOW she is our guest on Queer and Queerer! Zack and Peterson welcome Christine Bakke to the program. Christine is an artist, an activist, and an outspoken ex-gay survivor. As a lesbian […]
Way back in January, I wrote a post about why atheists should care about the Prop 8 Trial, pointing out that science was on trial. I was not alone in pointing out that Perry v. Schwarzenegger is the Scopes Monkey Trial of our day, merely challenging psychology instead of biology. I think it is important […]
If you didn’t get a chance to watch today’s oral arguments for the Prop 8 appeal, you didn’t necessarily miss much. Nothing was decided, though the questions from the judges certainly gave us some interesting insight into their perspectives.
The first hour was dedicated to the questions of standing. Do the defendant-intervenors (Protect Marriage) have standing to continue defending Prop 8 since they are not named as actual defendants? Cooper argued for them essentially saying that yes, they do, because if the Attorney General will not defend them, no one can. In doing so, he misconstrued the Karcher case, in which former New Jersey legislators were not given standing (according to Professor David Cruz). Also, the passing of the initiative was a “check” by the people on the CA Supreme Court. Boies countered that the initiative was a legislative act, and that essentially, the people do not also have the executive authority to defend it if their AG won’t.
Basically, the California Ballot Initiative Process is messed up. Two of the judges on the panel seemed interested in the California Supreme Court certifying the DI’s standing, which would alleviate them of that responsibility. Boies pointed out that his arguments would be the same either way, and that awaiting such a decision would merely delay the completion of the case unnecessarily.
As for Imperial County, the discussion was whether the County Clerk is directly impacted by the injunction against enforcing Proposition 8. Boies argued that the role of the clerk is ministerial—that they simply carry out state law as enforced by the Attorney General. Professor David Cruz, who was in the live chat with us, made the brilliant point that San Francisco was not allowed to give same-sex couples marriage licenses in 2004, so in the wake of the injunction, clerks should also not be allowed to not give same-sex couples marriage licenses.
It is my understanding that standing will only be granted to one of these groups, if any. (If no standing is found for either Protect Marriage or Imperial County, then the merits of the case will not be addressed and Judge Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional will stand.)
The rest of the oral arguments were much of what we are already used to.
Cooper kept trying to say the same old arguments about preserving the institution of marriage and all its unique benefits. The judges pointed out that gays and lesbians essentially have everything marriage is defined by except the word. (Therese Stewart, attorney for San Francisco, also later pointed out that California manages all parenting and child-rearing completely separate from marriage.) Cooper offered, “The word is the institution,” trying his best to argue it is okay for the people to take away a right.
Olson countered with a very concise message that this was discrimination motivated by animus. The elimination of Prop 8 does nothing to harm heterosexual couples. He also hammered home that sexual orientation was immutable, and that the “crazy quilt” (all the different marriage statuses that exist in CA as a result of Prop 8) demonstrate just how irrational it is.
The end of the day is slightly anti-climactic, as we await the decision of the panel. If they want the CA Supreme Court to chime in on the standing of the defendant-intervenors, any real decision in the case will be delayed. If they find that neither Protect Marriage or Imperial County have standing, then the case is over and Prop 8 is overturned. If either group is found to have standing, then the case continues and the merits weighed in on.
Nonetheless, it was an important day, if for no other reason than the fact that these arguments were televised. While the first hour’s debate on standing was dry and probably of little interested, the ensuing hour and a half discussion about gay people was poignant. I encourage everyone to watch or read the transcripts and share with others. This is a discussion that everybody needs to hear.
[Update: I will be participating in a live chat during the arguments through AMERICAblog Gay and Pam’s House Blend.]
Just when you thought you’d never see the Prop 8 Trial on TV, here it is!
Today (less than an hour after this post will go up), the oral arguments will take place for the appeal before the Ninth Circuit. Take the time now to catch up then tune in at 1 PM (EST) to watch live. Check back later for more discussion here at ZackFord Blogs.
I’m frustrated. I probably shouldn’t even be writing, but I am.
It’s Monday. What’s the big news in the LGBT world? Kind of two biggies I guess…
1) Those crazy Prop 8 proponents filed their 134-page argument to the Circuit of Appeals. I could wade through the whole thing for you if you’d like, but today I just can’t be bothered. It’s the same old nonsense: procreation, victim status, etc. Read the P8TT links, because a lot of others have already dissected it pretty well.
2) Tomorrow the Senate will vote on whether to vote on whether to let Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be considered for repeal by the Joint Chiefs at a later, uncertain date. And who is getting all the media attention to affect this cloture vote? Lady Gaga.
Kudos to Gaga, really. She’s taking this pretty seriously and being strategic about encouraging us Little Monsters to call our Senators and tonight she’s in Maine targeting undecided Senators there.
But I’m frustrated because we’re drowning in politics. If you look at all the groups who are working to support LGBT equality, you see a lot of political strategy (lobbying, direct action political pressure, support for gay candidates, support for gay-friendly candidates, gay Republicans who don’t care about LGBT issues) and legal efforts. Where is the education? Who’s doing it? Our Community Centers get really lousy financial support and currently only reach a few metropolitan areas. They do great work, but with what they have to work with, they’re barely making dents.
I live in Middle America. Where I live I face housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and marriage discrimination. Sure I can stream LOGO and watch Will & Grace reruns on Lifetime, but my area is still unwelcoming for queer folks and there is minimal queer visibility. But of course, a vote on a vote on a potential repeal and an election of lesser evils have to be our main priority so that six years from now we can elect a President with the same talking points that we loved about this one. I have to be patient; it’s not our turn yet. We’re still stuck on survival and just getting by on the scraps of victory we can get.
Well, when does anyone educate Middle America? Our movement is all about money and influence. And money. But decades of money and influence haven’t really changed life out here in the sticks. Who’s going to start educating people outside of the maybe-six gay haven cities? Where’s the national campaign to say, “All those things you believe about homosexuality? You’re wrong.”
Frankly, at this point, I struggle to even care about this DADT vote. It’s not real repeal—there’s no end to discharges in sight—but we’re such scaredy cats we’re not even sure if Senator Reid should take the vote if he isn’t sure he has the votes. All that work to get nowhere because of the importance of the midterm elections. Meanwhile, to their credit, the Log Cabin Republicans were getting the law declared unconstitutional on its face while the rest of us (myself ashamedly included) weren’t even paying attention. Of course, the LCRs never hedge on supporting Republicans whether they’re anti-gay or not, so we had reason not to trust them, but they showed us just how inefficient we can be with both our time and money, especially since we’re still not sure whether we have the votes for a vote that doesn’t even repeal. But hey, we’ve got Lady Gaga on our side. That’ll make the difference.
I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing change. What I do see are schools that have unchangingly negative climates. I see universities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see communities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see the same old myths and stereotypes perpetuated with the same full force and getting the same full attention by the media.
And I can’t help but worry that on the day that all the legal victories are secure, the work will end, as if that’s all it takes. In the meantime, Middle America continues to be a wasteland for real LGBT change.
I haven’t written about Prop 8 lately, but only because I feel like folks have been too eager to get a fix when most of what’s happening now is just standard legal procedure. If you haven’t paid attention over the last week, here’s a quick catch-up, and then below I’ll respond to some statements from Protect Marriage.
First, here’s a quick reminder of the vocab, because I know it can get confusing. The plaintiffs are the good guys (represented by Olson and Boies), the defendants are the actual government officials, and the proponents are the Protect Marriage folks who stepped in as defendant-intervenors.
» When Judge Walker first overturned Prop 8 two weeks ago, he implemented a temporary stay for his own ruling for the sole purpose of giving the defendants/proponents a window to demonstrate why the decision should be stayed until after appeal. This was a tough case to make since he said in the decision that same-sex marriage in no way harmed anybody or any marriages.
» We learned that Judge Walker would make his decision on this matter last Thursday (August 12). We waited with baited breath through a three-hour window in which we thought we would hear. Couples were waiting in line to marry and extra city officials had been deputized to help perform the marriages. Finally, sometime in the fourth hour we learned that he would be lifting the stay, but it would still be in effect until this Wednesday (tomorrow, August 18).
Many were underwhelmed by this response. Given that the original decision had been so unabashed in outlining the harm to gays and lesbians by Proposition 8, this seemed an unnecessary extension of that harm. Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry called it Justice Delayed. The extension of the stay created room for the Appeals Court to offer their own stay without there being a window of legal same-sex marriage.
» Yesterday, the appeals court did issue their stay until that round of the trial is over. This is disappointing news for most. The court did expedite the case, but that won’t necessarily appease many, as the trial date is in December, and a decision won’t come until potentially months afterward.
» There is still the question of standing, whether the proponents have the right to appeal at all since they are not the defendants. A decision in that matter could end everything else. If that were to happen, Judge Walker’s ruling would apply, but to California only. Still, it would be an important precedent for future trials in other parts of the country.
That’s where we stand now. Same-sex couples still cannot marry in California. A final decision in that matter is still at least half a year away, if that. It’s odd to recognize that we had this huge victory two weeks ago and yet we don’t have much to show for it.
In the meantime, we can still take a whack at Protect Marriage and their ugly gloating over basic procedure that is not really a victory for them at all.
We are gratified that Judge Walker has continued until August 18th the temporary stay of his decision. We will promptly seek from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a stay pending the final resolution of the case. On appeal, we look forward with confidence to a decision vindicating the democratic process and the basic constitutional authority of the 7 million Californians who voted to retain the traditional definition of marriage. The decision whether to redefine the institution of marriage is for the people themselves to make, not a single district court judge, especially without appellate scrutiny.
This afternoon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by Prop 8 proponents to stay U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, thereby upholding the vote of 7 million Californians while the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case is heard on appeal. The arguments will occur in San Francisco the week of December 6, 2010.
“California voters spoke clearly on Prop 8, and we’re glad to see their votes will remain valid while the legal challenges work their way up through the courts. Invalidating the people’s vote based on just one judge’s opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people’s confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the defendants in the Perry v Schwarzenegger case.
Always eager to play the victim! Enjoining Judge Walker’s decision would have validated my confidence in the judiciary to be a balanced check, but that’s just me.
Pugno went further in an email to Prop 8 supporters:
As we pointed out in our motion, Judge Walker’s decision totally ignores virtually all legal precedents, the well-recognized public interest served by fostering traditional marriage, and even common sense itself.
Of course, he has to raise the stakes so he can ask for more money two paragraphs later. He’s so appreciative of the prayers and support. Won’t you give these whiny brats a special donation so they can continue to waste the government’s time with unconstitutional, discriminatory ideas?
She graced the pages of Glamour magazine. She stunned the nation on Good Morning America. She helped launch a movement (Beyond Ex-Gay) and NOW she is our guest on Queer and Queerer! Zack and Peterson welcome Christine Bakke to the program. Christine is an artist, an activist, and an outspoken ex-gay survivor. As a lesbian who once tried to suppress and change her orientation, she now speaks out passionately about the dangers of treatments that try to “de-gay” you. She joins us to talk about the Prop 8 ruling, its implications for the Ex-Gay Survivor movement, exorcism, demon nests, and activist art!
Remember, send us your questions for episode 20! You can ask us ANYTHING.
Responding to Protect Marriage’s posts is not always the most fun exercise. Sometimes it’s downright f-in annoying because their statements are always so full of BS. *ahem* But that’s why we respond, right? Rather than paragraph by paragraph as per my norm, I’m going to parse Charles Cooper’s latest statement sentence by sentence. Feel free to go to the Protect Marriage site if you want to read the statement without my annotations.
Today, a single federal judge has negated the will of the people of California.
No, he didn’t. He overturned an unconstitutional mandate determined by 52% of the valid vote-casters of California who participated in the November, 2008 election in fulfillment of his Constitutionally-mandated responsibility as a federal judge.
The central premise of the court’s ruling is that it is irrational for the citizenry to decide to retain the traditional definition of marriage.
Technically, he ruled that the idea of retaining such a definition was irrational, not the idea of the citizenry making decisions.
The court holds that the ubiquitous definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is a historical curiosity that serves no purpose whatsoever, but rather is based solely on anti-gay biases.
Shocking as it may be, that is, in fact, true.
Indeed, the court went so far as to brand as “irrational” all supporters of traditional marriage, which is the vast majority of all people, in American and throughout the world.
No, here you’re quite wrong. He made no such judgment about the people who supported the referendum. In his own words, the word “irrational” appears twice in the decision. On p. 109, he uses it to describe using sexual orientation to classify people. On p. 133, he uses it to describe the post-hoc state interests that your defense team, Mr. Cooper, espoused at trial. At no point did Judge Walker refer to supporters in this way.
As New York’s high court recently recognized, until very recently it “was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex.” [Hernandez v. Robles, 855 N.E.2d at 8 (N.Y. 2006)].
And then recently happened.
The historical record reveals that the traditional definition of marriage is grounded in society’s interest in channeling potentially procreative sexual relationships between men and women into enduring, stable family units to increase the likelihood that children will be raised by the man and woman whose union brought them into the world.
The court record and the expert witnesses reveal that that’s a load of malarkey. For example, the traditional definition of marriage included coverture, the idea that a man owned his wife and all of her belongings. It also never had procreative ability as a prerequisite nor required procreation after affirmation.
Judge Walker’s ruling sweeps aside this historical understanding of marriage.
The one that has constantly changed over the ages? I’d say he did the opposite.
In its place, he has announced that “Marriage is the state recognition of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependants.”
In its place? That’s what it was on August 3rd, too.
His opinion thus treats children as a mere afterthought when it comes to marriage.
Quite to the contrary, Mr. Cooper. I might refer you to Judge Walker’s Findings of Fact 35, 41, 49, 55, 56, 69, 70, 71, and 72. You might be surprised what you learn when you actually read the decision, considering you obviously didn’t pay attention to any of the testimony.
The Court’s disregard for the historical purposes of marriage would require California to embark on a novel experiment with the fundamental institution of marriage.
Wouldn’t be the first time! Besides, how many decades have to pass before ideas aren’t considered “novel” or “experimental” anymore? Or heck, centuries? Emperor Nero is rolling in his tomb.
In doing so, it threatens to harm the vital interests historically served by marriage.
Scary language. No substance.
The United States Constitution provides no warrant for this result, as demonstrated by the all-but-unanimous judgment of other federal courts that have addressed the issue.
Looks like Judge Walker found some pretty solid warrant for this result. Besides, no such judgment has ever heard this kind of testimony on the issue. Look what happens when there’s real information provided in a trial about gays and lesbians!
In addition to dismissing the traditional definition of marriage, the judge incredibly found that children don’t need fathers. Or mothers. To state this proposition is to refute it.
No, that’s not what the judge found at all. The judge found, based on substantial research and evidence, that the genders of a child’s parents do not determine how well that child is raised.
And the court also found that there is no benefit whatsoever for a child to be raised by its own biological parents.
Fortunately, the case is not over. Judge Walker acknowledged from the outset that “this case is only touching down in this Court, … it will have a life after this Court, and what happens here, in many ways, is only a prelude to what is going to happen later.” July 2, 2009 Tr. of Hr’g at 12. About that he was right. We have already filed a notice of appeal and look forward to the next stage of this litigation.
And we’re all so glad you will continue to spin your foundationless vitriol for us all to see.
Is he really that stupid or does Protect Marriage just pay him enough that he’s willing to sound like it for the sake of the case?
I’m sure such a statement will get them a ton of donations, though.
(You can find all my Protect Marriage responses listed in italics in my Prop 8 Archive.)
Way back in January, I wrote a post about why atheists should care about the Prop 8 Trial, pointing out that science was on trial. I was not alone in pointing out that Perry v. Schwarzenegger is the Scopes Monkey Trial of our day, merely challenging psychology instead of biology. I think it is important to now look at Judge Walker’s decision and see that not only was this a victory for gay rights, but a victory for science (the APA agrees) and the dismantling of religious privilege in our nation.
Then (starting on p. 35), Judge Walker gets to the matter of the proponents’ witnesses. First he describes Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson, “experts” the proponents’ withdrew, but whose taped depositions were still submitted as evidence by the plaintiffs. What is remarkable is how—perhaps because they were withdrawn—their expertise and their testimony have little to do with each other (p. 36-37 citations omitted):
Young has been a professor of religious studies at McGill University since 1978. She received her PhD in history of religions and comparative religions from McGill in 1978. Young testified at her deposition that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality and that same-sex couples possess the same desire for love and commitment as opposite-sex couples. Young also explained that several cultures around the world and across centuries have had variations of marital relationships for same-sex couples.
Nathanson has a PhD in religious studies from McGill University and is a researcher at McGill’s Faculty for Religious Studies. Nathanson CV. Nathanson is also a frequent lecturer on consequences of marriage for same-sex couples and on gender and parenting. Nathanson testified at his deposition that religion lies at the heart of the hostility and violence directed at gays and lesbians and that there is no evidence that children raised by same-sex couples fare worse than children raised by opposite-sex couples.
Proponents made no effort to call Young or Nathanson to explain the deposition testimony that plaintiffs had entered into the record or to call any of the withdrawn witnesses after potential for contemporaneous broadcast of the trial proceedings had been eliminated.
This seemed an incredibly useful tactic by the plaintiffs’ legal team. It demonstrated that even if Young and Nathanson had testified at trial, their expertise on religioun would have been irrelevant to what we actually know about gays and lesbians.
Kenneth P Miller
I’m going to save David Blankenhorn for last, because he makes for a grander finale. Skipping down to p. 49, we see where Judge Walker considers the testimony of Kenneth P Miller, who plaintiffs contended did not have sufficient expertise to testify on the subject of the political power of gays and lesbians.
Miller received a PhD from the University of California (Berkeley) in 2002 in political science and is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. Plaintiffs contend that Miller lacks sufficient expertise to offer an opinion on the relative political power of gay men and lesbians. Having considered Miller’s background, experience and testimony, the court concludes that, while Miller has significant experience with politics generally, he is not sufficiently familiar with gay and lesbian politics specifically to offer opinions on gay and lesbian political power.
It seems that the proponents found a witness who was willing to say what they wanted him to say, but really had nothing to back it up. There are several pages where Judge Walker showed how Miller could not explain how his conclusions contradicted studies and reports submitted by the plaintiffs. My favorite was this one (p. 52):
Plaintiffs questioned Miller on data showing 84 percent of those who attend church weekly voted yes on Proposition 8, 54 percent of those who attend church occasionally voted no on Proposition 8 and 83 percent of those who never attend church voted no on Proposition 8. Plaintiffs also asked about polling data showing 56 percent of those with a union member in the household voted yes on Proposition 8. Miller stated he had no reason to doubt the accuracy of the polling data. Miller did not explain how the data in PX2853 are consistent with his conclusion that many religious groups and labor unions are allies of gays and lesbians.
It was also revealed that Miller was fed most of the documents he cited by the defense. I’ll let Judge Walker take us home on Miller’s testimony (p. 53-54):
The credibility of Miller’s opinions relating to gay and lesbian political power is undermined by his admissions that he: (1) has not focused on lesbian and gay issues in his research or study; (2) has not read many of the sources that would be relevant to forming an opinion regarding the political power of gays and lesbians; (3) has no basis to compare the political power of gays and lesbians to the power of other groups, including African-Americans and women; and (4) could not confirm that he personally identified the vast majority of the sources that he cited in his expert report. Furthermore, Miller undermined the credibility of his opinions by conceding that gays and lesbians currently face discrimination and that current discrimination is relevant to a group’s political power.
Miller’s credibility was further undermined because the opinions he offered at trial were inconsistent with the opinions he expressed before he was retained as an expert. Specifically, Miller previously wrote that gays and lesbians, like other minorities, are vulnerable and powerless in the initiative process, contradicting his trial testimony that gays and lesbians are not politically vulnerable with respect to the initiative process. Miller admitted that at least some voters supported Proposition 8 based on anti-gay sentiment.
For the foregoing reasons, the court finds that Miller’s opinions on gay and lesbian political power are entitled to little weight and only to the extent they are amply supported by reliable evidence.
I think Judge Walker ought be applauded for his critical observations here.
Now, you might read all that and wonder, “So what exactly qualifies an expert?” Judge Walker will happily walk you through it.
First, we have Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (p. 39-40):
Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that a witness may be qualified as an expert “by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.” The testimony may only be admitted if it “is based upon sufficient facts or data” and “is the product of reliable principles and methods.” Expert testimony must be both relevant and reliable, with a “basis in the knowledge and experience of [the relevant] discipline.”
This is key language. The information provided has to, essentially, be scientifically valid and reliable. Scientific literacy is so vital to our society and we are fortunate that Judge Walker understands that. He goes on to say that formal training and peer-reviewed publications are not necessary, but speak to the intellectual rigor expected of an “expert.” However, the court is not required to admit opinion evidence that is connected to existing data only by the ipse dixit of the expert. So peer review is an effective way for the court to ensure that an expert’s methodology is sound.
Several factors are relevant to an expert’s reliability:
(1) “whether [a method] can be (and has been) tested”;
(2) “whether the [method] has been subjected to peer review and publication”;
(3) “the known or potential rate of error”;
(4) “the existence and maintenance of standards controlling the [method’s] operation”;
(5) “a * * * degree of acceptance” of the method within “a relevant * * * community”;
(6) whether the expert is “proposing to testify about matters growing naturally and directly out of research they have conducted independent of the litigation”;
(7) whether the expert has unjustifiably extrapolated from an accepted premise to an unfounded conclusion;
(8) whether the expert has adequately accounted for obvious alternative explanations;
(9) whether the expert “employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field”; and
(10) whether the field of expertise claimed by the expert is known to reach reliable results for the type of opinion the expert would give.
I know that kind of reads like gobbledygook, but each of those is a significant point in which the court upholds scientific thinking.
Essentially, the court holds (or should hold and has precedent to hold) experts accountable to their testimony. If their research isn’t accepted by their field or their conclusions don’t match their claims, they are violating the expertise they claim to have. This is so important, and I think we have to appreciate the way Judge Walker carefully meted out and considered all the facts in this case.
And why did he have to write this all out in the decision? Because of David Blankenhorn.
You might think I’ve already beaten up on David Blankenhorn a bit too much. It’s not without irony that I was chastising his pity party yesterday just hours before the decision came down. But you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen the way Judge Walker eviscerated Blankenhorn’s testimony (p. 39):
Plaintiffs challenge Blankenhorn’s qualifications as an expert because none of his relevant publications has been subject to a traditional peer-review process, he has no degree in sociology, psychology or anthropology despite the importance of those fields to the subjects of marriage, fatherhood and family structure, and his study of the effects of same-sex marriage involved “read[ing] articles and ha[ving] conversations with people, and tr[ying] to be an informed person about it.” Plaintiffs argue that Blankenhorn’s conclusions are not based on “objective data or discernible methodology,” and that Blankenhorn’s conclusions are instead based on his interpretation of selected quotations from articles and reports.
The court permitted Blankenhorn to testify but reserved the question of the appropriate weight to give to Blankenhorn’s opinions. The court now determines that Blankenhorn’s testimony constitutes inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight.
Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. And Walker says it a few more times, too. You see, Walker didn’t just dismiss Blankenhorn’s testimony; he took the time to dismantle it. (And there is a lot more detail in the decision than what I’ve excerpted here!)
In regards to Blankenhorn’s opinions on the definition of marriage (p. 43-44):
Blankenhorn’s interest and study on the subjects of marriage, fatherhood and family structure are evident from the record, but nothing in the record other than the “bald assurance” of Blankenhorn suggests that Blankenhorn’s investigation into marriage has been conducted to the “same level of intellectual rigor” characterizing the practice of anthropologists, sociologists or psychologists. Blankenhorn gave no explanation of the methodology that led him to his definition of marriage other than his review of others’ work. The court concludes that Blankenhorn’s proposed definition of marriage is “connected to existing data only by the ipse dixit” of Blankenhorn and accordingly rejects it.
In regards to Blankenhorn’s opinions on the ideal family structure and children (p. 44-45):
Blankenhorn’s conclusion that married biological parents provide a better family form than married non-biological parents is not supported by the evidence on which he relied because the evidence does not, and does not claim to, compare biological to non-biological parents. Blankenhorn did not in his testimony consider any study comparing children raised by their married biological parents to children raised by their married adoptive parents. Blankenhorn did not testify about a study comparing children raised by their married biological parents to children raised by their married parents who conceived using an egg or sperm donor. The studies Blankenhorn relied on compare various family structures and do not emphasize biology. The studies may well support a conclusion that parents’ marital status may affect child outcomes. The studies do not, however, support a conclusion that the biological connection between a parent and his or her child is a significant variable for child outcomes. The court concludes that “there is simply too great an analytical gap between the data and the opinion proffered.” Blankenhorn’s reliance on biology is unsupported by evidence, and the court therefore rejects his conclusion that a biological link between parents and children influences children’s outcomes.
In regards to Blankenhorn’s opinions that same-sex marriage will lead to the “deinstitutionalization of marriage” (p. 48-49):
Blankenhorn stated he opposes marriage for same-sex couples because it will weaken the institution of marriage, despite his recognition that at least thirteen positive consequences would flow from state recognition of marriage for same-sex couples, including: (1) by increasing the number of married couples who might be interested in adoption and foster care, same-sex marriage
might well lead to fewer children growing up in state institutions and more children growing up in loving adoptive and foster families; and (2) same-sex marriage would signify greater social acceptance of homosexual love and the worth and validity of same-sex intimate relationships.
Blankenhorn’s opinions are not supported by reliable evidence or methodology and Blankenhorn failed to consider evidence contrary to his view in presenting his testimony. The court therefore finds the opinions of Blankenhorn to be unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.
Strike Three! You’re Out!
The problem with Blankenhorn isn’t just that he speaks out against the rights of gays and lesbians. It’s that he’s wrong. Like so many believers, he puts the cart before the horse, and thus looks for studies that support his opinion instead of drawing opinions from studies.
I hope he sees this decision as an important check on his credibility as well as the authenticity of the work coming out of his so-called Institute for American Values.
Ultimately, science won this case. There is no getting around the solid facts about sexual orientation that make it quite clear that Proposition 8 was discriminatory and wrong. Anyone who disagrees needs a lesson in science.