Thursday, July 24, 2014
July 14, 2014|11:03 am
Babies wearing pink and blue blankets identifying their gender wait in the hospital.
A White House representative has responded to an online petition that received over 103,000 signatories calling for the Obama Administration to recognize "non-binary genders."
Roy Austin, deputy assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council, recently responded to the petition posted on the "We the People" website in March.
While sympathetic to the petition's demands, Austin wrote on Friday that "there is considerable variance across agencies and levels of government."
"…we believe proposals to change when and how gender is listed on official documents should be considered on a case-by-case basis by the affected federal and state agencies," responded Austin.
"However, that consideration must be informed by best practices and a commitment to honoring individuality and ensuring fairness."
Austin's reply also directed readers to a link showcasing President Barack Obama's record on LGBT issues.
"We know how important this issue is, and we understand the profound impact, both symbolic and otherwise, of having official documents that accurately reflect an individual's identity," wrote Austin.
"These documents play an essential, functional role, but also demonstrate the measure of dignity and respect afforded to our nation's citizens."
In March, a petition was posted on the White House's "We the People" website demanding that the federal government recognize "non-binary genders," or gender identities outside of male and female.
"Legal documents in the United States only recognize 'male' and 'female' as genders, leaving anyone who does not identify as one of these two genders with no option," read the petition.
"This petition asks the Obama administration to legally recognize genders outside of the male-female binary, such as agender, pangender, genderfluid and others, and provide an option for these genders on all legal documents and records."
To earn an official response from the Obama Administration, the petition had to get at least 100,000 signatures by April 20, a benchmark it passed days before the deadline.
Despite making the 100,000 mark back in April, the petition to recognize "non-binary genders" had to wait nearly three months for a reply.
Another petition response, that calling upon Tesla Motors to directly sell products to consumers in all 50 states, were the first official responses posted since May.
President Obama delivers remarks at a reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month in the East Room of the White House, June 30, 2014.
The petition response refusing to fully implement recognition of "non-binary genders" in all federal government agencies comes as the nation waits for President Obama's executive order on LGBT employment discrimination.
Recently Obama announced that he will sign an executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among business that have federal contracts.
The pending executive order has drawn praise from some for taking steps to protect sexual minorities and criticism from others for concerns that the order will lack sufficient religious liberty protections.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
July 22, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama waves before he signs an Executive Order to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination while in the East Room at the White House in Washington, July 21, 2014.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors. What does this mean for Christian organizations that remain faithful to the biblical teaching on homosexual behavior?
Here are two main points that those groups need to be aware of:
First, the order only applies to government contractors and sub-contractors, it does not apply to groups that receive government grants. Most religious non-profits that provide services for the government do so through a government grant. They would not be affected.
A grant recipient is awarded money for general purpose, but how that purpose is fulfilled is decided by the recipent and spelled out in their grant proposal. Contractors and sub-contractors are hired to provide specific products or services.
Second, there is no blanket exemption for religious organizations, but Obama did maintain the religious hiring exemption that was put in place during the George W. Bush administration. The religious hiring exemptions says that faith-based organizations are allowed to only hire adherents of their faith.
The thorny legal issue, and what this debate is all about, has to do with this situation: Suppose a religious non-profit organization contracted by the federal government requires adherence to a set of beliefs and behaviors consistent with its faith as a condition of employment; among those beliefs related to sexual ethics, same-sex sexual relations are prohibited; is that organization exempt from the sexual orientation workplace discrimination rule under the religious hiring exemption? That is an open question that future courts may have to decide.
It is an open question partly because the final rule, which will be written by the Department of Labor, has not been written, and partly because there will need to be a court challenge to know with certainty how the courts would rule.
The legal issue is also murky because the order does not clarify a distinction between those with same-sex attraction and those who engage in sexual relations with their same gender. Many Christian organizations, however, do draw this distinction.
The religious hiring exemption does cover more than just verbal adherence to a faith. In other words, religious employers can require that an employee's behavior remain consistent with the faith, according to Stanley Carlson-Thies, founder and president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
After completion of the final rule, lawsuits could be the next step, Carlson-Thies believes, and some religious organizations may simply avoid partnering with the government altogether in order to avoid any potential court battles.
"So, by not exempting religious organizations from the new prohibitions," he wrote, "the President has opened the door to litigation, and his action will likely cause many faith-based organizations to consider whether federal contracting has now become too risky. So the new Executive Order will complicate the federal government's partnerships with faith-based organizations to provide important services."
Monday, July 21, 2014
July 19, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the border crisis after his meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry (not seen) in Dallas, Texas, July 9, 2014.
President Barack Obama plans to sign on Monday an executive order that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination by federal contractors, the White House said. There is no new exemption for religious organizations.
The order bars federal contractors from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and protects federal employees from discrimination based on their gender identity.
The move comes after the failure of the White House to have the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed in Congress, and amid increasing calls by LGBT groups for a measure bypassing legislative approval.
The White House says the order will affect 24,000 companies and 8 million employees.
"Obama's executive order does not modify that Bush exemption" The Huffington Post quoted a senior administration official as saying. "It stands."
This means that the employers will be allowed to hire people based on their faith, but barred from discriminating against them based on sexual orientation.
The ENDA Senate bill, supported by almost all Democratic senator, included a religious exemption, stating: "This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
"It would be better if the president could provide leadership that promotes tolerance all the way around rather than use the force of the state," The New York Times quoted Galen Carey, the vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, as saying.
LGBT groups have expressed gratitude to the Obama administration.
"With the strokes of a pen, the president will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of L.G.B.T. people across the country," Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. "These actions from the president have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration's progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-L.G.B.T. discrimination must not be tolerated."
Obama's move comes about a month after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that closely held companies can invoke religious objections to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which forces all companies to cover contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in employees' health care. In a five to four decision, the court ruled last month that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties.
A senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal that the Hobby Lobby case didn't involve federal contracts. "We were comfortable moving forward with this executive order in light of Hobby Lobby," she said.
An executive order protecting employees of federal contractors from discrimination, including based on sex, is already in place but President George W. Bush amended it to include exemption for religiously affiliated federal contractors.
Obama plans to issue two orders on Monday.
One order will amend an executive order signed by President Johnson in 1965 that prevents federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, religion or national origin, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, according to Los Angeles Times.
The other order will amend an order issued by President Richard Nixon that prevents discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sex, race, disability and age. While President Clinton added sexual orientation to the list, Obama will now add gender identity to it.
Friday, July 18, 2014
July 17, 2014|9:08 am
A pro-traditional family advocacy group has launched an email campaign opposing a Burger King local promotion in San Francisco that featured a specially packaged, limited-edition gay pride Whopper with a rainbow wrapper in anticipation that the fast food chain may go national with the burger.
"Even though this promotion was at just one location, as a chain, Burger King is promoting homosexual behavior as healthy and something to have pride in," said American Family Association president Tim Wildmon in astatement released Wednesday. "We believe that promoting and encouraging unhealthy behavior will drive families away."
Fernando Machado, Burger King's Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management defended the company's promotion, telling USA Today that the sandwich "showcases who we are as a brand," adding, "It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression."
On Tuesday, AFA sent an Action Alert to its friends and supporters and has prepared an email that consumers can send directly to Burger King executives and to the Burger King Franchise Association. AFA says that unless concerned consumers contact the fast food chain, the promotion could go nationwide next time. The email, which can be edited by the sender, states:
I am offended by Burger King's stunt in offering a so-called "Proud Whopper" in San Francisco. What were you thinking?
Your celebrated promotion of cross-dressers and homosexuality is an insult to families and I find your celebration of abhorrent behavior as a reason to dine elsewhere.
I hope you will learn from this publicity blunder and realize that while most stores did not participate in the corporate-approved program, the damage has been done and affects the image of all Burger King outlets.
"The Proud Whopper" promotion was held the week of 4th of July and at a restaurant situated along the parade route of San Francisco's annual gay pride event. Theologian and author John Piper tweeted, "Good-bye, Burger King.http://dsr.gd/1kmsDPv (If you wonder why, watch the last five seconds of the video, and weep.)"
Burger King video promoting Proud Whopper campaign can be viewed below.
Not every Christian is sold-out on opposing Burger King for its promotion. Alan Noble, co-founder and editor of Christ & Pop Culture wrote recently about the controversy, asking whether Christians should really be saying "goodbye" to Burger King.
"By boycotting Burger King for this lame promotion, evangelicals are validating it as a legitimate political and social statement instead of a cheap and tactless co-opting of the LGBT movement for profit," Noble states. "Most of all, focusing on silly faux-political/moral 'stands' like Burger King's only distracts us from richer and more edifying work."
He argues that current culture sees "economic coercion" as an important tool in social change and cites Mozilla, Duck Dynasty, and Chick-fil-A, as well as Burger King as examples.
"There are times and places when boycotts and buycotts are appropriate, certainly, but the way in which they have become the default method of public discourse and social advocacy is troubling," Noble wrote. "The Church has richer and more effective means of prophetically speaking, through preaching, service, and modeling an alternative to the world's order; I hope we begin to use them more."
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Lawyers for both the state and a group of gay and lesbian couples hoping to topple Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage submitted arguments late Wednesday on two separate questions: whether the ban violates the First Amendment or the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Attorneys in the case have already made oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in federal court, but debated only whether Louisiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
New legal briefs requested by the judge after that hearing address the question of whether Louisiana must actually hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether the state is violating First Amendment rights against so-called compelled speech by requiring that same-sex couples who have already wed elsewhere list themselves as single on tax returns.
The couples involved answered both questions in the affirmative. They made their case that Louisiana is forcing those married couples into “evident hypocrisy” by requiring same-sex couples, even if they have a legal marriage license from another state, to list themselves as single on Louisiana tax forms, violating the First Amendment in the process.
They also argued that denying same-sex couples a marriage license in Louisiana bas
The first argument may be a unique one, though similar gay marriages cases are pending in every state. The second relies on the same line of reasoning employed in dozens of those lawsuits, most of them sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in United States v. Windsor, holding that the federal government must extend benefits to same-sex couples married in states where those unions are legal.
The plaintiffs’ brief on Wednesday quotes Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in voting to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the Windsor case argued that singling out same-sex couples “demeans” them and “humiliates” the children already being raised by them.
Lawyers for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the other named defendants in the case responded unequivocally. The answer to whether Louisiana is violating either the First Amendment or due process rights of same-sex couples, they wrote, “is ‘no.’”
As they did in court last month, they pointed out that the Supreme Court in Windsor affirmed the right of the states — rather than judges or the federal government — to define marriage. Kennedy wrote that the states have a “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”
The state’s brief acknowledges that the couples involved have hit upon a “novel” argument by bringing up the First Amendment, but then dismiss it as off base.
“This novel claim has no merit because this tax filing requirement regulates conduct, not speech,” it reads, “And therefore does not implicate the First Amendment compelled-speech doctrine at all.”
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 14, 2014
The Old Town Hall for Salem, Massachusetts.
A city in Massachusetts has opted to end a contract with a Christian college over the academic institution's opposition to homosexuality.
The mayor for Salem recently announced that the city's contract with Gordon College for usage of the Old Town Hall, set to expire later this year, will be immediately terminated.
Rick Sweeney, vice president of marketing and communications at Gordon College, told The Christian Post about the contract to use the Old Town Hall.
"Gordon College had been in a contractual relationship with the city of Salem since 2008 to manage Old Town Hall, one of the most historic buildings in the city," said Sweeney.
"This was a reciprocal arrangement where we provided management of the facility in exchange for using it for educational programs connected to Gordon, and as well as 'curation' experiences for history majors at Gordon."
Sweeney also told CP that Gordon College was already shifting away from "event planning" in order to "refocus on educational efforts."
"The transition was going to occur in August. The city had the option of opting out of the contract early," said Sweeney.
"When the college became part of a public controversy over attention on longstanding behavioral standards we have as a private Christian institution, they decided to move quickly."
Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll told CP that at specific issue was Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy, which specifically forbids "homosexual behavior" for students and faculty.
"This is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year," said Driscoll. "The city does not contract with private parties that willfully discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation."
Driscoll asserted that this was not an example of "viewpoint discrimination," but rather an example of enforcing an antidiscrimination law.
"The city's action terminating our contract with Gordon for the management and maintenance of Old Town Hall, a public building, cannot be construed as discriminating against a viewpoint," said Driscoll.
"Rather, the city terminated the contract because Gordon's behavioral standards code conflicted with our fully LGBT inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. It is not discriminatory to reject discrimination."
When asked by CP about whether or not Gordon College will consider legal action, Sweeney responded that this was "highly unlikely" given the parameters of the contract.
"It is sad this situation has cast both the college and our relationship with the city in a bad light, as the partnership has always been very amicable and productive over the years," said Sweeney.
"Members of the Gordon community have always been respectful and welcoming to all individuals regardless of orientation, particularly in the many interactions in diverse communities like Salem."
Monday, July 14, 2014
July 12, 2014|
Gay rights advocates march by the White House in Washington, on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. Thousands of gay rights supporters marched Sunday from the White House to the Capitol, demanding that President Barack Obama keep his promises to allow gays to serve openly in the military and work to end discrimination against gays.
Should those who disagree with liberal views on homosexuality have the freedom to express and live according to those beliefs in civil society? Liberals are now deeply divided over this question.
This split was seen most recently over a debate about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
ENDA, a bill that would prevent workplace discrimination based upon sexual preference and gender identity, passed the U.S. Senate last year. Speaker of the House John Boehner has said the House will not vote on the measure. President Barack Obama recently announced that he will issue an ENDA-type executive order that would only apply to employers with government contracts.
Liberals are divided on whether ENDA, the Senate bill or the executive order, should include an exemption for religious groups.
Religious organizations contract with the federal government to provide services, such as aid to developing nations or prison programs. Some of these organizations require assent to a set of religious beliefs and behavior consistent with those beliefs as a condition of employment. As a result, they may not hire someone in a same-sex relationship. Without an exemption for religious employers, therefore, these groups may be forced to no longer provide those government services.
Religious exemptions are not unusual in American law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had one, for instance, related to non-discrimination in hiring and employment. These exemptions have been widely considered consistent with the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment.
The Senate bill, supported by every Democratic senator (except Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, who did not vote), included a religious exemption, which states: "This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
While the Senate's passage of ENDA was largely celebrated by gay rights groups at the time, there were some stirring of concern over extending the same religious exemption found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The editors of The New York Times described the exemption as "terribly broad" because it included, not just houses of worship, but religious institutions like hospitals and colleges.
The exemption, they wrote, "would give a stamp of legitimacy to the very sort of discrimination the act is meant to end."
Debate among liberals over the religious exemption heightened over the past week. The American Civil Liberties Union and three other gay rights organizations announced they were withdrawing support for ENDA because of the religious exemption.
The bill already passed the Senate and it will not even be debated in the House. So what changed? Two things: 1) Obama's pending ENDA-like executive order, and 2) the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.
The Court's decision, the organizations wrote, led to their withdrawal of support for ENDA: "The Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision. Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination."
Other liberals, though, strongly encouraged Obama to include a religious exemption.
Michael Wear, who led the faith outreach for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and worked in Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, wrote a letter to Obama, along with 13 other signers, encouraging him to include a religious exemption. Dr. Stephen Schneck, director of Catholics for Obama, also signed the letter.
"Without a robust religious exemption, like the provisions in the Senate-passed ENDA, this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom," they wrote.
Unlike the statement by the ACLU and other groups, Wear's letter was not in response to Hobby Lobby. The letter was being composed before the decision and would have been sent to Obama even if Hobby Lobby had lost.
A separate letter was sent by Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a liberal Evangelical organization, who also encouraged Obama to include a religious exemption.
For some liberals, opposition to same-sex marriage and the belief that homosexual behavior is a sin is not the only punishable offense. Simply asking for religious freedom for those who hold those beliefs is also a punishable offense.
Wear's letter was also signed by D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a Christian college near Boston. As a result of his signing of that letter, the mayor of Salem, Massachusetts ended a contract the city had with the college and the college's accrediting agency will be investigating whether to end the college's accreditation.
While liberalism has historically been appreciative of pluralism and toleration, we are now seeing the rise of "dogmatic liberalism," Damon Linker, a liberal columnist wrote Friday for The Week.
"The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex," he said. "For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left."
Why the rise of intolerant, dogmatic liberalism? Linker argues it's related to a decline of religion.
"Human beings will be religious one way or another," he wrote. "Either they will be religious about religious things, or they will be religious about political things.
"With traditional faith in rapid retreat over the past decade, liberals have begun to grow increasingly religious about their own liberalism, which they are treating as a comprehensive view of reality and the human good."
Friday, July 11, 2014
July 10, 2014
A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder's Office on Valentine's Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.
A Colorado district court judge has declared a state voter-approved amendment defining marriage as being between only one man and one woman.
District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree of Adams County made his ruling on Wednesday, but immediately stayed his decision pending appeal.
"The court holds that the Marriage Bans violate plaintiffs' due process and equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," wrote Crabtree.
"The existence of civil unions is evidence of further discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of the Marriage Bans."
In 2006, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative that added an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as only being between one man and one woman.
Known as Amendment 43, it passed with 56 percent of the vote. In the same election, voters rejected an amendment allowing for same-sex "domestic partnerships" that would have legal benefits.
Colorado was one of multiple states in November 2006 to approve state marriage amendments and as with the others it was legally challenged on the charge that it was unconstitutional.
A total of 18 plaintiffs, or nine same-sex couples from Denver and Adams County, filed suit against the amendment.
"We are ecstatic. There is much cheering in our house … We waited a long time for this ruling," said one of the plaintiffs to The Denver Post.
The decision was one in over dozen similar cases across the United States to rule that state level bans violated the U.S. Constitution.
For the past several months, every decision regarding these lawsuits has come down against the amendments.
Regarding the latest Colorado decision, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement denouncing Crabtree's reasoning.
"Rather than take his cues from the Constitution, he joined the judicial stampede by lower federal courts to override state marriage laws — something the Supreme Court was careful not to do in last year's Windsor decision," said Perkins.
"Judges can ignore the will of the people and they defy natural law in making same-sex marriage legal, but the will never be able to make it right."
For his part, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has stated that he intends to appeal the Crabtree decision.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
July 9, 2014|7:07 am
Several liberal media organizations are reporting the results of a new same-sex parenting study which suggests that gay parents do a better job of raising children than the general population. There are four imporant points to understand about that study, however.
Here are a few of the headlines:
CBS News: "Children of same-sex couples healthy, well-adjusted, study finds"
NBC News: "Children of Same-Sex Parents Are Healthier: Study"
The Huffington Post: "Children Of Gay Parents Are Happier And Healthier Than Their Peers, New Study Finds"
Vox: "Largest-ever study of same-sex couples' kids finds they're better off than other children"
The study, though, does not warrant the conclusions suggested by those titles.
"Parent-reported measures of child health and wellbeing in same-sex parent families: a cross-sectional survey," by lead author Dr. Simon R. Crouch at The University of Melbourne in Australia, was published June 21 by the journal BMC Public Health. The co-authors were Elizabeth Waters, Ruth McNair, Jennifer Power and Elise Davis. Power is affiliated with La Trobe University. The rest of the authors are at The University of Melbourne.
The study found that children of same-sex parents scored higher on measures of general behavior, general health and family cohesion than the general population of Australia. The study also measured how often the parents felt stigmatized for being gay. A high number of stigmas was negatively correlated with measures of the children's physical activity, mental health and family cohesion.
Here are four important points to understand about the study:
1) The study did not use a random sample.
To make a generalizable conclusion about a population, scientific studies need a large, probability sample of the population, sometimes called "random sample" or "representative sample." A probability sample means that those surveyed are representative of the general population.
The Crouch study was based upon a convenience sample, or non-probability sample. Participants for the study were recruited through gay and lesbian community email lists and ads posted in gay and lesbian press. This means that the participants volunteered for the study and were not randomly chosen from the population.
The sample had 315 parents of 500 children. Most of the children, 80 percent, had a female parent complete the survey. Eighteen percent had a male parent, while the remaining parents described themselves as "other gendered."
As stated in the study: "Every effort was made to recruit a representative sample, and from the limited data available about same-sex parent families it appears that the [study's] sample does reflect the general context of these families in contemporary Australia."
Convenience samples can be an important research tool when probability samples are difficult to achieve. They can also help researchers design better studies and help them resolve issues with their research before conducting large scale studies. Social scientists understand, however, that conclusions about a general population should not be drawn based upon a convenience sample.
2) The study did not compare same-sex parents to biological parents.
Previous studies have shown that kids do best when they are raised by their biological parents and those parents are married. The Crouch study, however, compares its convenience sample of children raised by same-sex parents to the general population, which includes those raised by single parents, step parents, foster parents and other same-sex parents.
The study cannot conclude, therefore, that children raised by gay parents have better or worse outcomes than children raised in two-parent heterosexual households.
3) The study relies upon parent-reported outcomes.
The health and well-being of the children are based upon what the parents say they are. While these measures are being compared to other parent-reported measures, there are reasons that gay and lesbian parents might overstate their outcomes at a greater rate than the general population.
The survey was conducted while Australia is debating redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Part of that debate deals with child-rearing. Government recognition of marriage should only be for a man and woman, proponents of traditional marriage argue, because this arrangement is best suited for the raising of children, which is a public good.
It is in the interests of gay marriage supporters, therefore, to show that gay couples can raise children just as well as straight couples. The gays and lesbians who volunteered to participate in the Crouch study likely understood the significance of the study. As a result, they may have inflated their results more than the average parent. Additionally, gays and lesbians who are raising children with poor outcomes may have been reluctant to participate in the study for similar reasons.
4) Studies using probability samples show poor outcomes for gay parents.
Two recent studies that did use probability samples showed some poor outcomes for children of gays and lesbians.
The New Family Structures Study at the University of Texas led by sociologist Mark Regnerus found, for instance, that those who reported that at least one parent had a same-sex relationship had poor outcomes along a range of variables. They were, for instance more likely to be depressed, unemployed, have more sex partners and report negative impressions of their childhood.
A study published last December by economist Douglas W. Allen looked at a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census and found that children from gay and lesbian families were less likely to graduate from high school than children raised by opposite sex couples and single parents.
The issue of gay parenting in highly politicized. In such an environment, liberal media tend to exaggerate the results of those studies that appear to confirm their biases and write hyper-critically about the studies showing different results. Conservative media have similarly focused more on reporting the research that confirms their biases.
There are some significant differences, though, between how Allen and Regnerus are presenting their findings compared to Crouch and other social scientists who say there are no differences between gay and straight parents. Unlike the "no differences" social scientists, Allen and Regnerus do not argue that their studies are conclusive.
Gay parenting is difficult to study because it is so new. In the history of human civilization, gay parenting has only recently become culturally accepted. To understand the effects on the children they raise, social scientists need more and larger samples and time — time for the kids raised by gays and lesbians to grow up and have outcomes that can be measured and compared to those raised by other family types. Allen and Regnerus point this out in their research and other reports.
For the time being, research has shown that biological, two-parent households provide, on average, the best outcomes for children compared to all other family types. Additional research has demonstrated the unique contributions of mothers and fathers to child development. (One study, for instance, found that fatherlessness harms the brain.) These studies should be sufficient to at least raise suspicion of the studies suggesting that kids raised by parents of the same gender have the same, or better outcomes as kids raised by both a mom and a dad.
The social scientists reporting "no differences," on the other hand, make sweeping generalizations based only upon their small, non-random samples that confirm their liberal biases. Liberal media uncritically follow them.
Some of Regnerus' liberal critics have also argued that his findings should be ignored because he is a conservative Catholic. Crouch, though, is a gay man raising two kids with his partner. Would these same critics suggest that Crouch's study should be ignored because Crouch is personally invested in the results?
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
July 8, 2014
A Christian-run bakery in the U.K. could be facing a court case after it refused a request from a customer to make a cake featuring the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie with a slogan to "support gay marriage."
Ashers Baking Company in Belfast declined the order from the customer, a gay rights activist, but now mat face legal action from watchdog group Equality Commission, BBC News reported on Tuesday.
In a statement, the 24-year-old general manager of the Christian bakery said that the order, featuring portraits of the two puppets side by side alongside the logo of gay rights group QueerSpace, went against their religious convictions.
"The directors and myself looked at it and considered it and thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs," Daniel McArthur revealed.
"It certainly was at odds with what the Bible teaches, and on the following Monday we rang the customer to let him know that we couldn't take his order."
The bakery then gave a full refund to the customer, but six weeks later it received a letter from the Equality Commission, which argued that the bakery discriminated against the customer on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
Ashers then turned to The Christian Institute for legal assistance, noting that the Equality Commission's letter threatened to pursue legal proceedings.
"I feel if we don't take a stand on this here case, then how can we stand up against it, further down the line?" McArthur added, and revealed that in the past, the bakery has also turned down orders that featured pornographic images and offensive language.
"I would like the outcome of this to be that, any Christians running a business could be allowed to follow their Christian beliefs and principles in the day-to-day running of their business and that they are allowed to make decisions based on that."
Equality Commission has said that it will consider the bakery's response before it takes any further action.
Northern Ireland is now the only part of the U.K. which does not have legalized same-sex marriage.
Christian Institute's chief executive Colin Hart criticized the government for failing to listen to the public and place safeguards for those who support traditional marriage, especially those in the private sector.
"Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector," Hart said, according to The Telegraph.
"This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide good or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.
"It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual, or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs."
There have been similar cases in the U.S. in recent months, with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling in May against a Christian cake maker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, because of the baker's Christian beliefs. The Commission argued that anyone doing business in Colorado cannot discriminate against others.
Bert and Ernie, two of "Sesame Street's" most popular characters, have been used as a symbol for gay marriage before, although the TV show categorically denies that they have such a relationship.
After magazine The New Yorker used a painting of the two puppets getting affectionate to celebrate the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act in favor of gay marriage, Sesame Workshop addressed the question about Bert and Ernie's sexual orientation in a statement:
"Bert and Ernie are best friends," the statement read. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."