Connect with us

National

Anti-gay briefs ‘mischaracterized’ study

Child Trends says its research doesn’t pertain to same-sex parents

Published

on

Paul Clement, gay news, Washington Blade
Paul Clement, gay news, Washington Blade

Former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement filed the anti-gay DOMA brief (Public domain photo)

Attorneys who submitted anti-gay briefs to the Supreme Court in favor of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are continuing the mischaracterization of a 2002 study on child development to suggest same-sex parents are less fit than opposite-sex parents, according to the non-profit that produced the study.

The 2002 study — which is is referenced in both the DOMA and Prop 8 briefs filed on Tuesday — is titled “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It?” and was produced by the D.C.-based non-profit Child Trends, an organization that seeks to improve the lives of children by through research.

Carol Emig, president of Child Trends, said in a statement to the Washington Blade that attorneys who wrote these briefs misconstrued the group’s study in arguments against same-sex marriage because the findings say nothing about the quality of life for children raised by same-sex parents.

“The Child Trends brief in question summarizes research conducted in 2002, when same-sex parents were not identified in large national surveys,” Emig said. “Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents.”

Emig added, “We have pointed this out repeatedly, yet to our dismay we continue to see our 2002 research mischaracterized by some opponents of same-sex marriage.”

Child Trends’ study concludes, among other things, that “the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents.” The study makes references to children raised by single parents and stepparents, but no explicit reference to same-sex parents is found in the report.

In the DOMA brief, signed by attorneys House General Counsel Kerry Kircher and former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement, the Child Trends study is cited on page 47 as part of an argument that having DOMA on the books encourages childrearing by biological parents.

“Of course, only relationships between opposite-sex couples can result in children being raised by both of their biological parents,” the brief adds. “Therefore, when government offers special encouragement and support for relationships that can result in mothers and fathers jointly raising their biological children, it rationally furthers its legitimate interest in promoting this type of family structure in a way that extending similar regulation to other relationships would not.”

In the Prop 8 brief, signed by lead attorneys with ProtectMarriage.com, Andrew Pugno and Charles Cooper, the Child Trends study is referenced on page 37 as “a leading survey of social science research” under the argument that Proposition 8 furthers responsible procreation and child bearing.

“Because same-sex relationships cannot naturally produce offspring, they do not implicate the State’s interest in responsible procreation and childrearing in the same way that opposite-sex relationships do,” the brief states.

Attorneys affiliated with ProtectMarriage.com and the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the apparent misuse of the study in their legal briefs. The DOMA brief was filed in the case of Windsor v. United States and the Prop 8 brief was filed in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.

The reference to the study isn’t the first time anti-gay forces have referenced that study as part of their argument against same-sex marriage, nor is this the first time that Child Trends has objected to use of its research for anti-gay purposes.

In his 136-page ruling against Prop 8 issued in 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker tore into David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, for relying on the Child Trends study among others during testimony as evidence that parenting by same-sex parents is inadequate.

“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,” Walker writes.

David Blankenhorn, also citied the Child Trends brief as part of a 2008 essay titled “Gay marriage deprives children,” in September 2008 when Proposition 8 was headed for the ballot. In a letter to the editor, Emig also objected to the use of her group’s study for that argument.

“In research studies, the number of gay parents, even in large national surveys, has been too small to allow for separate analyses,” Emig wrote. “What is needed is a large-scale study of a representative sample of same-sex couples. Clearly, a better understanding of the diversity, strengths, and challenges faced by varied types of families is needed to better inform debates such as this one.”

While opposing marriage equality at the time, Blankenhorn has since reversed his views on same-sex marriage and now accepts it.

Similar objections were voiced in 2012 by Child Trends in the Kennebec Journal when Protect Marriage Maine brought up the study during the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot in Maine and in the Minneapolis Star Tribune when Minnesota for Marriage cited the study as a reason for passing the failed anti-gay marriage amendment there.

Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, said the citing of this research in the Prop 8 and DOMA briefs is “dishonest, shameful, and, in my view, unprofessional.”

“These misrepresentations have not only been pointed out by the researchers before, but have been repeatedly debunked by the party and amicus briefs in these cases — and in expert testimony at trial in Perry and in expert witness declarations in Windsor — yet the attorneys fighting against marriage equality continue to baldly misrepresent the actual findings of this and the other research on which they purport to rely,” Davidson said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

U.S. Military/Pentagon

Air Force base axes ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) welcomed the decision

Published

on

(Screenshot from U.S. Air Force's YouTube page)

A drag queen story hour scheduled to be held at the library in honor of Pride month at Ramstein Air Base in Germany was abruptly cancelled by the command staff of the 86th Airlift Wing on Thursday.

According to Stars and Stripes, the 86th Air Wing’s public affairs sent a statement to a radical-right anti-LGBTQ news outlet in Canada, The Post Millennial, which had requested comment to its article about the event and also accused the Air Force of pushing a more “woke” agenda among servicemen. 

“An advertisement was posted to the base library social media page before the event had completed Ramstein’s established processes for special observance coordination and approval.  The advertisement has been removed and the event will not take place. Ramstein leaders strive to foster a culture based on inclusion where all people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their political views, color of their skin or sexual orientation. The base’s established processes will ensure all future special observance events are properly reviewed and approved prior to advertisement.”

The Post Millennial’s story framed its reporting using hard-line right terms and descriptions of the LGBTQ community; “Drag Queen Story Hour has become a phenomenon in recent years, with men dressing up in clownish, garish costumes of women to read to children. Many drag queens have sexualized names, like Penny Tration.”

The conservative outlet also reported that one mom of a toddler, whose husband is stationed at the base, told The Post Millennial that while she often takes her child to the library for story time, she was “shocked to see the Ramstein Air Force Base Library plans to hold an official drag queen story hour for children.”

“I find it wholly inappropriate that the MILITARY of all places will be using public funds to sexualize children,” she said.

According to Stars and Stripes, the cancellation of the drag queen book reading drew mixed opinions from the Kaiserslautern Military Community, which encompasses Ramstein. With tens of thousands of Defense Department personnel and their families, it is the largest U.S. military community overseas.

An opponent of the wing’s decision launched a petition at Change.org to try to get the event reinstated.

“Now more (than) ever we need to show our support to our enlisted members and spouses in the face of blatant discrimination,” wrote the petition organizer, named Natalie Oyer, who described herself as spouse to a transgender wife.

“I don’t know if anything can bring back the events though,” Oyer wrote. “Most of the queens are enlisted.”

Stars and Stripes also reported that the 86th Airlift Wing, axed a separate drag karaoke event scheduled to be held at the base enlisted club, according to community members posting on social media sites.

In a press release Friday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took partial credit for the cancellation.

Rubio sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall regarding the Air Force Library at Ramstein Air Force Base hosting a “Drag Queen Story Time” event for young children of servicemembers. Rubio urged him to cancel the event, discipline the staff involved in planning and hosting the event, and respond to questions on whether other installations both at home and around the world have done similar events. Following receipt of Rubio’s letter, the Air Force canceled the event. 

“The last thing parents serving their nation overseas should be worried about, particularly in a theater with heightened geopolitical tensions, is whether their children are being exposed to sexually charged content simply because they visited their local library,” Rubio wrote.

The 86th Airlift Wing’s publics affairs office at Ramstein and the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs office at the Pentagon have not responded to a request for comment.

Continue Reading

National

Pulse survivor ‘at a loss’ over Texas elementary school massacre

Brandon Wolf is Equality Florida’s press secretary

Published

on

Brandon Wolf was a Grand Marshal at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade on June 8, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Adam Hall)

A survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre on Wednesday said he is “at a loss” over the massacre at a Texas elementary school that left 21 people dead.

“Twenty-one people were murdered,” said Equality Florida Press Secretary Brandon Wolf in a statement he sent to the Washington Blade a day after a gunman killed 21 people inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. “Nineteen of them were children — babies. That means 19 families sent their elementary age kids off to school only to get the worst news: That their babies would be leaving class in body bags.”

Wolf was inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire and killed 49 people. His two close friends — Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his fiancé, Juan Guerrero — were among those killed.

Wolf in his statement noted “right wing politicians have spent the past year insisting that the greatest threats our children face are the potential they’ll learn that this nation was built on the backs of enslaved Black people or that their teacher uses they/them pronouns.”

“They’ve banned books, censored curriculum and bastardized history lessons,” said Wolf. “All the while, they haven’t lifted a finger to protect kids from what is killing them.”

Equality Florida echoed Wolf’s sentiments.

“I am heartbroken for the shattered families,” added Wolf. “Grief-stricken for these stolen lives. And enraged at the power-hungry leaders who have chosen time and again to serve up this country’s most vulnerable as sacrifices in exchange for a boost up the ladder of their own ambitions.”

Axel Rodríguez’s friend, Xavier Serrano Rosado, died inside the Pulse nightclub.

Rodríguez told the Blade that Tuesday was “such a dad day for us here” in Orlando.

“It is like going through the same emotions we had when the attack at Pulse happened, but it’s even worse because we are talking about children,” he said. “When will our government stop thinking about money and stop this madness? Everyone now can obtain a gun anywhere. I just cannot comprehend that at all.”

The Pulse nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman on Oct. 1, 2017, killed 60 people at a concert in Las Vegas.

A gunman on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Twenty children and six adults died in the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Robb Elementary School massacre took place less than three years after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

“There are no words,” tweeted Pride Center San Antonio, which is roughly 90 minutes east of Robb Elementary School, on Wednesday.

“Our hearts are with the Uvalde community,” said Equality Texas on Tuesday. “Every child deserves to free safe at school.”

Continue Reading

Texas

Republican lawmaker claims Texas school gunman was transgender

Massacre victims were inside single classroom

Published

on

Families gather at a Uvalde, Texas, civic center to wait for news about their loved ones. (Photo courtesy of Niki Griswold/Twitter)

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed that all of the 19 children and two adults were killed in single classroom at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday.

According to officials, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos, wearing body armor had barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom, where all the fatalities and injuries occurred. Ramos, who attended the nearby high school, was killed on scene by a member of a federal U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit who had responded alongside local law enforcement.

Several other children were injured in the attack, including a 10-year-old who remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital. Law enforcement officials told reporters Ramos shot his grandmother before heading to the school with two military-style rifles he bought on his 18th birthday which was within the last two weeks.

Law enforcement has only released some of the victim’s identities and according to the Austin Statesman newspaper’s political reporter Niki Griswold, parents were gathered late into the night to give DNA samples to find out whether or not their children were among the dead. Griswold also tweeted, “The agonized screams of family members are audible from the parking lot,” as she also noted “A family has erupted into sobs outside the civic center.”

As Texas and the nation reeled in shock over yet another deadly mass shooting, Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar, who espouses radical right view points and former President Trump’s MAGA philosophy, took to Twitter and spread a false and transphobic claim that the suspected shooter was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.”

Screenshot of now-deleted tweet by Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar

As of Tuesday evening, Gosar had not commented on his tweet, which was deleted about two hours after being published.

Gosar is an anti-immigration, anti-vaxxer, radical right hardliner who routinely cozies up to white nationalists. He was apparently promoting a false claim circulating on right-wing networks. Users shared images of a transgender person unrelated to the attack claiming they were the shooter.

President Biden addresses nation the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday evening.
(Screenshot/White House YouTube)

In Washington last night, President Biden, speaking to the nation said;

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” he asked. “Why do we keep letting this happen?  Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the [gun] lobbies? 

Speaking from personal experience, as a father who has lost two children, Biden added: “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest, and you feel like you’re being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out. It’s suffocating. And it’s never quite the same.”

Global reaction included sympathy from Ukraine’s leadership.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed condolences to the community of Uvalde where the 21 people — including the 19 students — were murdered in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

“Deeply saddened by the news of the murder of innocent children in Texas,” Zelenskyy wrote. “Sincere condolences to the families of the victims, the people of the U.S. and @POTUS over this tragedy. The people of Ukraine share the pain of the relatives and friends of the victims and all Americans.”

NPR reported Wednesday that Zelenskyy also referenced the shooting while speaking by video link at a conference on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he drew a direct parallel between the shooting and the war in Ukraine.

“I feel it is my personal tragedy when children are killed in Texas, and now in my country Russian military is killing our children,” he said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular