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Anti-gay briefs ‘mischaracterized’ study

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

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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.

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National

65% of Black Americans support Black LGBTQ rights: survey

Results show 40% have LGBTQ family member

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(Logo courtesy of the NBJC)

The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced on June 19 that it commissioned what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind national survey of Black people in the United States in which 65 percent said they consider themselves “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” with 57 percent of the supporters saying they were “churchgoers.”

In a press release describing the findings of the survey, NBJC said it commissioned the research firm HIT Strategies to conduct the survey with support from five other national LGBTQ organizations – the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality, and GLSEN.

“One of the first surveys of its kind, explicitly sampling Black people (1,300 participants) on Black LGBTQ+ people and issues – including an oversampling of Black LGBTQ+ participants to provide a more representative view of this subgroup – it investigates the sentiments, stories, perceptions, and priorities around Black values and progressive policies, to better understand how they impact Black views on Black LGBTQ+ people,” the press release says.

It says the survey found, among other things, that 73 percent of Gen Z respondents, who in 2024 are between the ages of 12 and 27, “agree that the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people.”

According to the press release, it also found that 40 percent of Black people in the survey reported having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+ and 80 percent reported having “some proximity to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, but only 42 percent have some proximity to transgender or gender-expansive people.”

The survey includes these additional findings:

• 86% of Black people nationally report having a feeling of shared fate and connectivity with other Black people in the U.S., but this view doesn’t fully extend to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Around half — 51% — of Black people surveyed feel a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.

• 34% reported the belief that Black LGBTQ+ people “lead with their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Those participants were “significantly less likely to support the Black LGBTQ+ community and most likely to report not feeling a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.”

• 92% of Black people in the survey reported “concern about youth suicide after being shown statistics about the heightened rate among Black LGBTQ+ youth.” Those expressing this concern included 83% of self-reported opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

• “Black people’s support for LGBTQ+ rights can be sorted into three major groups: 29% Active Accomplices, 25% Passive Allies (high potential to be moved), 35% Opponents. Among Opponents, ‘competing priorities’ and ‘religious beliefs’ are the two most significant barriers to supporting Black LGBTQ+ people and issues.”

• 10% of the survey participants identified as LGBTQ. Among those who identified as LGBTQ, 38% identified as bisexual, 33% identified as lesbian or gay, 28% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, and 6% identified as transgender.

• Also, among those who identified as LGBTQ, 89% think the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people, 69% think Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedoms than other Black people, 35% think non-Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedom than other Black people, 54% “feel their vote has a lot of power,” 51% live in urban areas, and 75% rarely or never attend church.

Additional information about the survey from NBJC can be accessed here.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Club Q shooter sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes

Five people killed in 2022 mass shooting in Colo.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Justice Department YouTube screenshot)

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, formerly of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced to 55 concurrent life sentences to run consecutive to 190 years in prison after pleading guilty to 74 hate crimes and firearms charges related to the Nov. 19, 2022, mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ establishment in Colorado Springs.  

According to the plea agreement, Aldrich admitted to murdering five people, injuring 19, and attempting to murder 26 more in a willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated attack at Club Q. According to the plea, Aldrich entered Club Q armed with a loaded, privately manufactured assault weapon, and began firing. Aldrich continued firing until subdued by patrons of the club. As part of the plea, Aldrich admitted that this attack was in part motivated because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of any person.

“Fueled by hate, the defendant targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a place that represented belonging, safety, and acceptance — stealing five people from their loved ones, injuring 19 others, and striking fear across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today’s sentencing makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to protecting the right of every person in this country to live free from the fear that they will be targeted by hate-fueled violence or discrimination based on who they are or who they love. I am grateful to every agent, prosecutor, and staff member across the Department — from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, to the Civil Rights Division, the ATF, and FBI — for their work on this case. The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the safety and civil rights of all people in our country.”

“The 2022 mass shooting at Club Q is one of the most violent crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community in history,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI and our partners have worked tirelessly towards this sentencing, but the true heroes are the patrons of the club who selflessly acted to subdue the defendant. This Pride Month and every month, the FBI stands with the survivors, victims, and families of homophobic violence and hate.”

“ATF will not rest until perpetrators like this defendant are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “I hope today’s life sentence brings at least some peace to the victims and survivors of this senseless, horrific tragedy. That this sentence should come during Pride month reinforces how far we have left to go before all communities, including all LGBTQIA+ communities, are safe here. It also shows how far ATF and all our partners will go to ensure hatred does not win.”

“The defendant’s mass shooting and heinous targeting of Club Q is one of the most devastating assaults on the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history. This sentence cannot reclaim the lives lost or undo the harms inflicted. But we hope that it provides the survivors, the victims’ families, and their communities a small measure of justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our message today should be loud and clear. No one should have to fear for their life or their safety because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The Justice Department will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate hate-fueled, bias-driven attacks.”

“Hate has no place in our country and no place in Colorado” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch for the District of Colorado. “I hope that today’s sentence demonstrates to the victims and those connected to this horrific event that we do not tolerate these heinous acts of violence.”

The FBI Denver Field Office, Colorado Springs Police Department, and ATF investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Connaughty and Bryan Fields for the District of Colorado and, Maura White of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

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Federal Government

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Garcia urges US officials to protect LGBTQ people during Pride Month

Gay Calif. congressman sent letter to top authorities on June 12

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Participants of the Capital Pride Festival in D.C. on June 8, 2024. Gay U.S. Congressman Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) has urged U.S. officials to ensure LGBTQ people are safe during Pride Month. (Washington Blade photo by Emily Hanna)

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) on June 12 sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray to work to ensure LGBTQ people during Pride events.

“Over the last several weeks, your respective agencies and departments have issued stark warnings, and travel advisories to the public over potential threats from foreign terrorist organizations (FTO), and their supporters during this year’s Pride Month,” said Garcia in his letter. “I understand that these steps have come after deeply concerning increases in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, calls for targeted violence, and foiled violent plots.”

The FBI on May 10 issued an advisory that warned of potential violence at Pride events and other LGBTQ-specific events. The State Department on May 17 — the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia — announced a similar warning.

“Ensuring that people can peacefully and safely celebrate Pride and the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community is of utmost importance,” wrote Garcia, a gay man who represents California’s 42nd Congressional District that includes Long Beach.

June 12 also marked eight years since a gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The massacre at the time was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, even though there is no evidence that suggests the extremist group ordered him to carry out the massacre. 

“This week marks the eight (sp) anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub Orlando shooting — during which the attacker deliberately and viciously targeted the LGBTQ+ community,” wrote Garcia in his letter. “It is important to put the recent escalation of extremist anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and messaging in the context the Pulse nightclub shooter who was influenced by these same forces of extremism.”

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