Feb 2010 | Our Take on the Prop 8 Trial

Christianity – as the wellspring of ‘animus’ against homosexual activity – is being attacked as full of bigotry, but empty of factual content. This mode of attack worked with Colorado’s Amendment 2 in 1994, and was an integral part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision. Yet 99% of the empirical evidence regarding homosexual activity supports the Christian appraisal of it.

Nevertheless, here we are with a distinct possibility of losing the Prop 8 trial in California. Why? Largely because many on the pro-family side of the aisle want to win only if they can show positive advantages to heterosexual marriage while simultaneously not criticizing homosexuals, their unions, or their actions. The Wall Street Journal quoted Andrew Pugno, general counsel for Protect-Marriage.com, as saying “We do not have to show that same-sex marriage would harm traditional marriage – but just that traditional marriage is a reasonable tool to promote the public’s interest.” (WSJ, 1/22/10, A5)

David Boies, co-lead attorney for the homosexual plaintiffs “said he set out to prove that marriage was an important right, that gays were harmed by being denied that right and that marriage wouldn’t be hurt by extending it to same-sex couples,… ‘We’ve proven all three of those.’ In response, defense lawyer Pugno said his side would present evidence from experts that traditional definitions of marriage between heterosexual couples have special benefit for children and for society.” [WSJ 1/23/10, A3]

In our view, there are essentially three strategies in any trial about social policy. You can demonstrate that: 1) what you are against is harmful to society; 2) what you are for is harmed by what you are against; and/or 3) what you are against is inferior to what you are for (or that what you are for is superior to what you are against).

The first two strategies necessitate proving that something is harmful, dangerous, or injurious. They are the strongest arguments because almost everyone understands that something harmful or bad for society should be stopped/prevented/regulated/criminalized/marginalized/etc. Arguing that something you support is merely ‘better than’ or ‘superior to’ what you’re against is the weakest argument. It is weakened further if you don’t invoke strategies (1) and (2), because your silence implies that those arguments are not true or might not be true.

At least from the media reports, plaintiff attorney Boies feels he has carried the first two strategies, while Pugno feels content to try to prove the third. On the January 25th Hugh Hewitt radio show, an Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) spokesman repeatedly asserted that all they had to do to win – given the well-worn rules of ‘how the law is supposed to be’ – was to prove that conventional marriage was better than ‘gay marriage.’

But what if the court regards this potential violation of ‘human rights’ as exceptional (as Brown v. Board of Education in 1954), and not subject to the ‘usual rules?’ The court might regard this contest as a debate about public policy. In that setting, since the gay marriage supporters have ‘proven’ that arguments (1) and (2) are not true by default (since no rebuttal was offered, (1) and (2) must not have legal merit), and the Prop 8 supporters have proven that (3) is true, a 2:1 split might cause the court to render a decision against Prop 8 as the most reasonable judgment. In other words, if there is no proof that homosexuals and their couplings are harmful to society, and no hard evidence (only speculation) that acceptance of homosexual marriage dilutes the value of real marriage, what is to prevent the court from seeing the issue strictly in terms of civil rights and unwarranted prejudice against homosexuals?

Amazingly enough, FRI has solid empirical evidence that (1) and (2) are true: that are there are real harms associated with homosexuality and homosexual marriage. But that evidence is being deliberately neglected. Why?

Some on the pro-family side undoubtedly are pursuing this strategy because they don’t want to ‘offend’ gays, lest they or others think they are ‘unloving and harsh.’ Some are worried that homosexuals might refuse to attend ‘ex-gay ministries’ if they expose their activities and reinforce the basis for the contempt in which many hold homosexual practitioners. Others want to take what they consider ‘the high road, criticizing no one, just standing for the good.’ Whatever the motivation, Jesus was not arrested and crucified for saying that ‘the current system is OK, only my way is better.’ Just about every social or religious reformer makes that kind of claim. Instead, Jesus harshly criticized the moral authorities of his day.

Those who want to color the world happy forget that there is a time for animus and a time for reconciliation. Animus toward those who seek to corrupt society and seduce children is a good thing. ‘Playing only nice’ with vandals results in courtroom losses, and leads others to think that (1) and (2) must not be true.

Over the last three decades, I and my colleagues have been the only ones publishing empirical data on homosexuality in refereed scientific journals, with an aim at giving serious and balanced attention to the traditional perspective. We have demonstrated, among other things, disproportionate child molestation by homosexuals, the unhealthiness and excessive hazards and social costs of homosexuality, and that AIDS education is too inefficacious to warrant its social and financial expense. Further, we have contributed more empirical data than anyone else even in those areas where other traditionally-minded researchers have published findings on this topic. Important examples include homosexual parenting and homosexual unions. In particular, the evidence we have compiled in regard to homosexual couplings suggests they are worse for society (and the participants) than are heterosexual unions, because homosexual couples do more biologically troubling things to each other, reduce their promiscuity slightly if at all, and thereby spread disease more efficiently.

If anyone had hard evidence that my and my colleagues’ methods of doing science were faulty or that one of our publications was incorrect, it would be reasonable for them to publicly attack them or it – after all, we have published in a public arena, where such attacks are not only ‘fair game’ but part of the scientific process. Successful attackers would gain some scientific credibility by such a ploy. Indeed, scientific careers and reputations have been made by demonstrating flaws in others’ research publications.

But if we and our research are attacked simply because we are disliked or critics don’t agree with us, or because we are considered ‘too harsh,’ it’s a whole different ballgame. Because our research is almost all that stands between opponents of the gay agenda and being dismissed as ‘mere spokesmen for unsupportable, archaic opinions’ (or less kindly, ‘Bible thumpers’), neglecting our research seriously risks undercutting any scientific or empirical opposition to the homosexual movement.

Although it is self-serving, given the realities of our times, if the pro-family side is to have any chance of prevailing in situations where scientific facts could determine the outcome of a contest over homosexuality (e.g., in a court or legislature), prudence would demand that our research should not be attacked or neglected except for scientific malfeasance.

Prop 8: Behind the Scenes

The Prop 8 trial in California is an exemplar of this troubling situation. In substantial part because of long-term animus toward me by the gay community, ex-gays and their sponsors, and the academic community, I am not an expert witness, nor has our research been consulted or utilized.

Consider what Michael Lamb, head of Cambridge University’s Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, testified (from various newspaper and wire services):

“Walker asked one of the most striking questions of the day – what the rash of pedophile priests suggested about the abilities of gays and lesbians in bringing up children. ‘You’ve testified that there is no reason to protect children from lesbians and gays,’ said Walker. ‘How do you square your statement with that phenomenon,’ the judge asked. ‘I don’t want to convey the fact that homosexual individuals never abuse children, simply that they are no more likely to do so than heterosexual individuals,’ Lamb replied. ‘In addition, he said no evidence exists that gays or lesbians were more likely to sexually abuse children.'”

Though we were not asked to testify, the truth is that we have published a number of studies – in peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of Psychology and Psychological Reports – that buttress the belief that those who engage in homosexuality are considerably more apt to molest children. Some of the evidence is from government-collected data (regarding, for example, teachers and foster parents), some from systematic compilations of media reports, some from self-report. All are consistent with higher rates of molestation by gays and lesbians. We have also referenced a number of studies conducted by other researchers that suggest the same.

“Lamb said there was no evidence that children with gay parents were more likely to become gay themselves or become victims of sexual abuse or incest.”

Despite Lamb’s claim of “no evidence,” our study, published in the peer reviewed journal, Adolescence, and cited in the Massachusetts gay marriage case (Goodridge v. Dept of Public Health, 2003), demonstrated both more frequent adoption of homosexuality and experience of sexual abuse from their parents by children with homosexual parents. The findings from this study have never been disproven, indeed they look as ‘solid’ today as when they were published in 1996.

Likewise, my 2006 paper, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Biosocial Science, showed that children with homosexual parents were considerably more apt to themselves adopt homosexual preferences. The same is true of a number of our publications in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Reports.

When Lamb in his testimony dismissed Dr. Walter Schumm’s published work in Psychological Reports because “It was published in a journal where one has to pay to have it published, so it’s not really considered part of the literature,” he was incorrect (but apparently not challenged by the Prop 8 lawyers). Not only do the studies in Psychological Reports have to be peer-reviewed by other scientists to be published, but page costs are in fact quite common in science and professional journals.

Further, my work about domestic violence in same-sex partnerships, published in Psychological Reports, was considered authoritative enough to be referenced when the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics published its report on the topic in 20041 utilizing Canadian census data. Indeed, my paper, which summarized the literature to date and which brought in some findings from a number of relatively ‘unknown’ sources2 was given ‘pride of place’ as references go:

“[homosexuals] experienced higher rates of spousal violence compared to heterosexual. Fifteen percent of gays or lesbians and 28% of bisexuals reported being victims of spousal abuse in comparison to 7% of heterosexuals. These findings are consistent with previous research (Cameron, 2003).”3

In the political correctness of our day, it is difficult to publish research that doesn’t support the gay agenda. Indeed, findings that don’t agree with the homosexual agenda are as popular in scientific publications as those that don’t support the notion of man-made global warming. So most of our work is published in less prestigious journals, but each is peer-reviewed. Having a study published in a prestigious journal is better for one’s reputation, to be sure. But the facts that are reported are what’s important, not necessarily the journal in which they are housed.

Indeed, having the facts and knowing the facts are crucial to any trial. Lawyers often naively assume that ‘a trial is always about the law, just as it says here in my law books.’ FRI has assumed instead – and history bears this out – that courts will become judges of social policy. So when David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, testified that allowing gay marriages would weaken the institution – likely leading to lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates for heterosexuals, as well as possible social acceptance of polygamy – he said what he should have. But when asked whether same-sex weddings could benefit gay couples and their children and Blankenhorn responded, “I believe it would be likely to do that,” it was more than a stumble.

The evidence, about which Blankenhorn appears not to have been briefed, suggests that having one gay parent is poor, but having two is worse. Why worse? One reason: because the child can never get away from a dysfunctional parent. If the ‘team’ splits up, the child must travel back and forth to both. Think of the former lesbian – now heterosexual – mother in Virginia. While in her ‘lesbian phase’ she was in a ‘domestic partnership’ with a woman in Vermont. When they split up, the lesbian demanded to see the child. A Vermont judge has ruled that the lesbian should have primary custody because the ‘now heterosexual mother’ won’t share the child. She and her child are hiding from the law.

If you will read the testimonies of lesbians’ children on our website Children of Homosexual Parents Report Childhood Difficulties (http://www.familyresearchinst.org/2009/02/children-of-homosexual-parents-report-childhood-difficulties-2/), you will see no reason to believe that two poorer parents are better than one. Indeed, two give a ‘double dose’ of homosexual examples and double the pressure to ‘convert.’ Two also typically have more gay contacts; the risk is thereby increased that the child will be influenced or seduced.

What is best for the child is to have NO gay parents. One is bad, two is worse. One wonders how the lawyers defending Prop 8 left Blankenhorn ‘out to dry’ on this issue. Alas, instead of a published scholar, the pro-family side chose an activist as an expert. When this goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court, our side’s record will be weak indeed.

Guilt By Association

For some time now, homosexuals and their supporters on the Internet have referred to me and our organization as “discredited,” backed up by the likes of Wikipedia and other sites (Wikipedia clearly depicts what the homosexuals who monitor and contribute to it say). This, coupled with personal appeals and attacks by homosexuals, ex-gays, and the supporters of ex-gay ministries, has led some in the pro-family movement to ignore, neglect, and/or stop referencing our work.

One example: a large pro-family organization secretly (or, at least, unbeknownst to us) decided many years ago to stop referencing our research in any way and to pull all citations to us from its publications and website. An Executive Vice-President from this same organization recently told a large gathering “although Paul Cameron uses different words than Fred Phelps, Paul holds nearly the same view” and “[our ex-gay ministry] is led by those who have been homosexuals,… who have been called every ugly name that an unthinking person, a person like Paul, can call a homosexual.”

Needless to say, given attacks on us like these by the best-connected and most vocal defenders of traditional marriage, it is little wonder that the legal team defending Prop 8 was not directed our way, nor that they would disregard the empirical evidence we have compiled over the past 30 years. Yet it would appear that the pro-family movement is ‘cutting off its nose to spite its face.’

Indeed, the Prop 8 trial in California could easily be construed as ‘a situation that rises above mere legalities.’ In too many recent cases, liberal notions of ‘civil rights,’ ‘human rights,’ and ‘non-discrimination’ have trumped long-standing legal precedent. If it is so construed – by the judge, the 10th circuit, or the U.S. Supreme Court – then ‘our side’ will pay dearly for having ceded arguments (1) and (2) to gay rights activists.

  1. Beachamp, DL Sexual orientation and victimization, 2004
  2. Domestic violence among homosexual partners, Psychological Reports, 2003;93:410-416
  3. Beachamp, Op. cit., p. 7.