Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Robin Williams, Rehab, and Reorientation

by Peter Sprigg

August 18, 2014

Robin Williams, the brilliantly talented comedian and actor, was found dead in his California home on August 11, the victim of an apparent suicide.

News coverage of his death reviewed his eclectic career, from the 1970’s TV hit Mork and Mindy to his Oscar for Good Will Hunting.

However, the media also reviewed his long history of drug and alcohol abuse. That began during his early days of television stardom. Williams reportedly gave up cocaine and alcohol, though, after his friend John Belushi died of an overdose and Williams became a father.

Williams spoke candidly about his addictions in a 2010 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian while on a publicity tour for his film World’s Greatest Dad (in which, ironically, he played a writer who fakes a suicide note and journal and attributes them to his late son).

Apparently, Williams quit alcohol and drugs cold turkey in the early ‘80’s, without any professional therapeutic intervention. He reported that he stayed sober for twenty years, but then began drinking again while working on location in a remote town in Alaska. After three years of drinking, a “family intervention” persuaded Williams to enter “rehab” (residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation) at the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center near Newberg, Oregon, where he stayed for two months. After that, Williams told The Guardian, he continued to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous every week.

Then just last month, news broke that Williams had again returned to rehab, this time at a Hazelden center in Minnesota. A spokesman for Williams said that he had not relapsed into substance abuse, but was “simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment [to sobriety], of which he remains extremely proud.” That was on July 1 — but six weeks later, he was dead.

In the wake of Williams’ suicide, many TV commentators and friends of the late star talked about the challenges of mental illness (Williams suffered from depression), addictions — and rehab. I saw comedian Andy Dick say, “I’ve been to rehab seventeen times.”

In light of this history, I have only one question for socially liberal political activists — why aren’t you trying to outlaw rehab?

I ask the question because such activists are trying to ban a form of mental health treatment — not drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE”), also known as “sexual reorientation therapy.” Such therapy involves assisting people with unwanted same-sex attractions to overcome them.

Why would someone want to change their sexual orientation? Some such individuals are simply disillusioned by their experiences in homosexual relationships. Some have legitimate concern about the well-documented health problems associated with homosexual conduct (especially among men), such as high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, of which HIV/AIDS is only one example. Others may seek help in conforming their behavior and lifestyle to the teaching of the religious faith to which they are committed. Some may aspire to a traditional family life, raising children in a home with both their mother and father present.

Whatever the motivation, there are those who have simply made a choice to walk away from the homosexual lifestyle, without clinical help — much like how Robin Williams simply stopped using drugs and alcohol in the 1980’s. Others have sought professional help, perhaps at the urging of family members, in the form of “sexual reorientation therapy” — much like when Williams entered a formal alcohol rehab program in 2006. Whether simply through personal development, religious counseling, or with the help of a licensed or unlicensed counselor, thousands (if not millions) of people have experienced significant changes in one or more of the elements of their sexual orientation (attractions, behavior, or self-identification).

Homosexual groups, however, have successfully pressured professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association to discourage such therapy. More recently, following an example set in California, legislators in several states have introduced bills to forbid licensed mental health counselors from engaging in SOCE with minors at all. Meanwhile in New Jersey (which already passed such a ban), the Southern Poverty Law Center has sued even unlicensed SOCE providers, charging them with “consumer fraud.”

Critics of reorientation therapy make two charges — that it is ineffective, and that it is harmful. But they support these charges only by holding such therapies to a standard of “effectiveness” and “safety” that is impossible for any mental health treatment to meet.

Some (but not all) clients of reorientation therapy testify to a complete transformation from homosexual to heterosexual, experiencing a change in their identity, behavior, and attractions. Others may change their identity, control their behavior, and begin to experience heterosexual attractions, but still experience occasional homosexual attractions as well. Still others may change identity and behavior, but continue to struggle with primarily homosexual attractions. Some clients change little with respect to their sexuality, but still find the therapy beneficial in exploring their feelings, family dynamics, etc. Some may seem to achieve significant changes for a period of time, but then suffer relapse. And finally, a few may simply experience little substantial change.

This range of outcomes is no different from any other form of mental health treatment — such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Yet critics of reorientation therapy claim that “it doesn’t work” because the proportion of clients who achieve complete transformation on a permanent basis is less than 100%. Can rehab live up to this standard?

There is actually no scientific evidence that reorientation therapy is more harmful than helpful. There are, however, anecdotal accounts of people who claim they found it harmful, or who had negative experiences after such therapy, such as depression or even suicide. However, mere chronological correlation is not scientific proof of causation — any more than Robin Williams’ suicide was “caused” by his recent return to rehab.

The real reason why homosexual activists object to reorientation therapy has nothing to do with science or mental health. Instead, it has everything to do with politics and ideology. If it is tolerable for some people to try to change from “gay” to straight — and for others to help them with the process — that might imply that it is tolerable to believe that there is something wrong with homosexuality itself. For ideological reasons, that is a belief that homosexual activists want stamped out at all costs.

If we were to apply the same standards to drug and alcohol rehabilitation that the homosexual activists want to apply to reorientation therapy, why not ban rehab? After all, since some people go to rehab and still suffer relapses afterwards, rehab is clearly “ineffective.” Robin Williams actually went to rehab, and shortly thereafter took his own life. Does that not clearly indicate that rehab is not only ineffective, but downright harmful? In addition, there are surely people who consume alcohol or use illicit drugs but are still able to function and make productive contributions to society — so there is obviously nothing inherently wrong with alcohol or drugs. Allowing people who struggle with their alcohol or drug use to seek professional help to discontinue them implies there is something wrong with them — thus reinforcing the unfair social stigma which attaches to people who use alcohol and drugs. And surely “family intervention” to force someone into rehab is a violation of their personal autonomy. In light of all these concerns, how can we allow the fraud of “rehab” to continue?

This kind of reasoning, of course, would be clearly absurd. There is no kind of mental health counseling that can guarantee it will substantially change the lives of 100% of its clients for the better. Those who do experience improvement may still struggle with temptation (hence the weekly AA meetings for support). Even among those who succeed in rehab, there can be no guarantee that none of them will, at some time in the future, relapse into the problems which caused them to enter treatment in the first place. Furthermore, the fact that a negative outcome (like suicide) follows a treatment like rehab chronologically does not mean that the treatment caused the negative outcome. It is far more likely that an underlying pathology (in Robin Williams’ case, depression) was the cause of both his substance abuse (which led him to rehab) and his suicide.

It would be absurd to ban rehab because it doesn’t work for everyone; doesn’t work 100% by eliminating all temptation; isn’t always permanent; is sometimes undertaken because of family pressure; or because bad things may happen afterwards. It would be equally absurd to ban rehab in order to protect the self-esteem of people who do not consider their alcohol or drug use to be a problem.

But the argument that we should ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) is equally absurd — because it relies on all the same fallacious arguments.

Is There a Federal Constitutional “Right” to Same-Sex “Marriage?” The Supreme Court Answered that Question Already — in 1972

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2014

Have you ever heard of the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case called Baker v. Nelson?

If so, you are probably a lawyer, or (like me) a person who regularly reads briefs and court decisions on the issue of redefining “marriage” to include homosexual couples.

If you have never heard of this case, you can be forgiven — even if you regularly read news stories about the movement for the same-sex redefinition of marriage.

However, Baker v. Nelson is an important precedent on this issue. It was the very first case in which anyone ever asserted that the Constitution of the United States protects the right to legally “marry” a person of the same sex. In Baker, a male couple sued a county clerk in Minnesota for denying them a marriage license in May 1970. The case made its way to the Supreme Court of Minnesota — which, on October 15, 1971, issued a ruling declaring that the state’s marriage law did not permit a same-sex couple to “marry,” and that it “does not offend … the United States Constitution.”

The case was appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court — which at the time, was required to accept all such appeals (this is no longer true). The Supreme Court issued its ruling on the case on October 10, 1972, declaring (in full): “Appeal from Sup. Ct. Minn. dismissed for want of substantial federal question.”

The dismissal of the appeal “for want of [a] substantial federal question” meant that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision against same-sex “marriage” to stand.

Hundreds of times a year, the Supreme Court allows lower court decisions to stand as the final ruling in that particular case when it “denies a writ of certiorari” (or “denies cert” for short). Such denials do not imply that the Supreme Court necessarily agrees with the decision or its reasoning, and they do not set binding precedent for future cases.

However, a “dismissal for want of a substantial federal question” is not just a refusal to hear the case, the way that a denial of a writ of certiorari is. Such a summary dismissal is considered to be both a decision on the merits and a binding precedent. The Supreme Court explained this in a 1975 decision, Hicks v. Miranda. I have omitted citations and quotation marks in the following, but the Court affirmed this view of summary dismissals:

Votes to affirm summarily, and to dismiss for want of a substantial federal question, it hardly needs comment, are votes on the merits of a case … . [U]nless and until the Supreme Court should instruct otherwise, inferior federal courts had best adhere to the view that, if the Court has branded a question as unsubstantial, it remains so except when doctrinal developments indicate otherwise … . [T]he lower courts are bound by summary decisions by this Court until such time as the Court informs [them] that [they] are not.”

Unfortunately, the “inferior federal courts” have not been acknowledging the binding precedent of Baker — at least, not since the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2013 (United States v. Windsor) striking down the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Judges in the recent federal cases have asserted that “doctrinal developments” (both with regard to the treatment of sexual orientation and of marriage under the law and Supreme Court precedent) have made Baker no longer binding.

Although the Windsor case is widely cited as the decisive case tipping the balance in favor of a federal constitutional right to same-sex “marriage,” it actually addressed a much narrower issue. DOMA effectively denied federal recognition even to same-sex “marriages” that were legal in the eyes of a State, and it was this “unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage” that was deemed offensive to the Constitution. On the other hand, state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman are not an “unusual deviation from the usual tradition” — they are the usual tradition.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion made clear that Windsor was about “persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State” (emphasis added). The penultimate sentence of the opinion states specifically, “This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.”

Implicit in this caveat is that the “opinion and its holding” do not apply to same-sex relationships that have not been deemed to be legal “marriages” by any State. As Hicks v. Miranda said, “[T]he lower courts are bound by summary decisions by this Court until such time as the Court informs [them] that [they] are not.” This would suggest that the summary decision in Baker remains binding (at least on the lower courts), since even in Windsor, the Supreme Court has never “informed [them] that [it] is not.”

Some people may argue that the absence of a written opinion explaining its reasoning limits the precedential value of Baker. However, while the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case in a scant twelve words, the same is not true of the Minnesota Supreme Court. They issued a written opinion over a thousand words long, succinctly but clearly explaining the weakness of the plaintiffs’ case.

Although the written opinion was from a state court, the plaintiffs’ primary claims (and the Minnesota Supreme Court’s opinion) dealt primarily with federal constitutional issues. The assertions made by the plaintiffs — relating to the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment — are virtually the same as those being made in the cases working their way through the federal courts today.

Therefore, it is worth reading the Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Nelson. An honest judge with integrity could just as easily release it again today.

The version below is edited for clarity by removing legal citations (except the one for Baker itself) and by turning all footnotes into end notes, as well as by adding limited explanatory material. The full text of the decision can be found various places online, including here.

Richard John BAKER, et al., Appellants,

v.

Gerald NELSON, Clerk of Hennepin County District Court, Respondent

No. 43009

Supreme Court of Minnesota,

Oct. 15, 1971

191 N.W.2d 185; 291 Minn. 310

OPINION

[C. DONALD] PETERSON, Justice. [for a unanimous 7-judge court]

The questions for decision are whether a marriage of two persons of the same sex is authorized by state statutes and, if not, whether state authorization is constitutionally compelled.

Petitioners, Richard John Baker and James Michael McConnell, both adult male persons, made application to respondent, Gerald R. Nelson, clerk of Hennepin County District Court, for a marriage license, pursuant to [Minnesota’s marriage law]. Respondent declined to issue the license on the sole ground that petitioners were of the same sex, it being undisputed that there were otherwise no statutory impediments to a heterosexual marriage by either petitioner.

The trial court, quashing an alternative writ of mandamus, ruled that respondent was not required to issue a marriage license to petitioners and specifically directed that a marriage license not be issued to them. This appeal is from those orders. We affirm.

1. Petitioners contend, first, that the absence of an express statutory prohibition against same-sex marriages evinces a legislative intent to authorize such marriages. We think, however, that a sensible reading of the statute discloses a contrary intent.

[The Minnesota statute] which governs “marriage,” employs that term as one of common usage, meaning the state of union between persons of the opposite sex.[1] It is unrealistic to think that the original draftsmen of our marriage statutes, which date from territorial days, would have used the term in any different sense. The term is of contemporary significance as well, for the present statute is replete with words of heterosexual import such as “husband and wife” and “bride and groom” (the latter words inserted by [another statute]).

We hold, therefore, that [the Minnesota marriage law] does not authorize marriage between persons of the same sex and that such marriages are accordingly prohibited.

2. Petitioners contend, second, that [the Minnesota marriage law], so interpreted, is unconstitutional. There is a dual aspect to this contention: The prohibition of a same-sex marriage denies petitioners a fundamental right guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, arguably made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, and petitioners are deprived of liberty and property without due process and are denied the equal protection of the laws, both guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.[2]

These constitutional challenges have in common the assertion that the right to marry without regard to the sex of the parties is a fundamental right of all persons and that restricting marriage to only couples of the opposite sex is irrational and invidiously discriminatory. We are not independently persuaded by these contentions and do not find support for them in any decisions of the United States Supreme Court

The institution of marriage as a union man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis. Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1942), which invalidated Oklahoma’s Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act on equal protection grounds, stated in part: “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.” This historic institution manifestly is more deeply founded than the asserted contemporary concept of marriage and societal interests for which petitioners contend. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is not a charter for restructuring it by judicial legislation.

Griswold v. Connecticut, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1965), upon which petitioners rely, does not support a contrary conclusion. A Connecticut criminal statute prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples was held invalid, as violating the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The basic premise of that decision, however, was that the state, having authorized marriage, was without power to intrude upon the right of privacy inherent in the marital relationship. Mr. Justice Douglas, author of the majority opinion, wrote that this criminal statute “operates directly on an intimate relation of husband and wife,” and that the very idea of its enforcement by police search of “the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives … is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.” In a separate opinion for three justices, Mr. Justice Goldberg similarly abhorred this state disruption of “the traditional relation of the family—a relation as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization.”[3]

The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, like the due process clause, is not offended by the state’s classification of persons authorized to marry. There is no irrational or invidious discrimination. Petitioners note that the state does not impose upon heterosexual married couples a condition that they have a proved capacity or declared willingness to procreate, posing a rhetorical demand that this court must read such condition into the statute if same-sex marriages are to be prohibited. Even assuming that such a condition would be neither unrealistic nor offensive under the Griswold rationale, the classification is no more than theoretically imperfect. We are reminded, however, that “abstract symmetry” is not demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment.[4]

Loving v. Virginia, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1967), upon which petitioners additionally rely, does not militate against this conclusion. Virginia’s antimiscegenation statute, prohibiting interracial marriages, was invalidated solely on the grounds of its patent racial discrimination. As Mr. Chief Justice Warren wrote for the court:

Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations.”[5]

Loving does indicate that not all state restrictions upon the right to marry are beyond reach of the Fourteenth Amendment. But in commonsense and in a constitutional sense, there is a clear distinction between a marital restriction based merely upon race and one based upon the fundamental difference in sex.

We hold, therefore, that [the Minnesota marriage law] does not offend the First, Eighth, Ninth, or Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Affirmed.



[1] Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1966) p. 1384 gives this primary meaning to marriage: “1 a: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife.”

Black, Law Dictionary (4 ed.) p. 1123 states this definition: “Marriage *** is the civil status, condition, or relation of one man and one woman united in law for life, for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex.”

[2] We dismiss without discussion petitioners’ additional contentions that the statute contravenes the First Amendment and Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

[3] The difference between the majority opinion of Mr. Justice Douglas and the concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Goldberg was that the latter wrote extensively concerning this right of marital privacy as one preserved to the individual by the Ninth Amendment. He stopped short, however, of an implication that the Ninth Amendment was made applicable against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.

[4] See, Patsone V. Pennsylvania, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1914). As stated in Tigner v.Texas, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1940), and reiterated in Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, [U.S. Supreme Court], “[t]he Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same.”

[5] See, also, McLaughlin V. Florida, [U.S. Supreme Court] (1964), in which the United States Supreme Court, for precisely the same reason of classification based only upon race, struck down a Florida criminal statute which proscribed and punished habitual cohabitation only if one of an unmarried couple was white and the other black.

Is Living Together the Same as Marriage? The Latest Research

by Peter Sprigg

July 3, 2014

A growing number of couples are living together in sexual relationships without bothering to marry. Are these relationships essentially the same as marriages? Research over the decades has shown significant differences in these two household forms, and the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics continues that trend.

Here, verbatim, are the “Key findings” in a new report, “Marriage, Cohabitation, and Men’s Use of Preventive Health Care Services.”

QUOTE

Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2011-2012

  • Among men aged 18–64, those who were married were more likely than cohabiting men and other not-married men to have had a health care visit in the past 12 months.
  • Marriage was associated with greater likelihood of a health care visit for both younger and older men, and for men with health insurance.
  • Among those for whom blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, married men were more likely than cohabiting men to have received these clinical preventive services in the past 12 months.
  • Cohabiting men were less likely than other not-married men to have had a health care visit, cholesterol check, or diabetes screening.

END QUOTE

The take-away? Men, the next time your wives nag you to go to the doctor — be thankful!

Strong Opposition to DC Ex-Gay Therapy Ban Voiced at Hearing

by Peter Sprigg

July 1, 2014

On Friday, June 27, it was my privilege to join a number of former homosexuals and other “everstraight” allies like me in testifying against a bill to ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for minors in the District of Columbia.

The politically correct mental health establishment turned out in force, with representatives of a variety of professional organizations voicing support for the bill, which would actually function by denying licensing as a mental health provider to anyone who helps minors overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. And all but one of the thirteen members of DC’s City Council has co-sponsored Bill 20-501, so it might seem as though the bill would be sure to pass.

Advocates of the measure who assumed it was on a fast track may have to think again after Friday’s hearing, though. Although defenders of therapeutic freedom were in the minority, we did bring forward eleven strong witnesses — eight of whom are themselves ex-gays, therapists, or clients who are currently in the change process. It takes great courage for such people to “out” themselves as ex-gay, given that typical reactions rage from skepticism to incredulity to outright vilification. Few things can challenge the unfounded conviction that “people are born gay and can never change” better than a face-to-face encounter with someone who has changed.

In contrast to the eight first-person testimonies against the bill, bill supporters had only one witness who claimed to have personally experienced (unsuccessful) reorientation therapy — Sam Wolfe of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a wealthy leftist political organization best known for slandering conservative organizations as “hate groups.” (Floyd Corkins, who came to Family Research Council headquarters on August 15, 2012 intent on mass murder and shot and seriously wounded my colleague Leo Johnson, told the FBI that he chose FRC and other targets by looking at the “hate map” on the SPLC website.)

Wolfe reported going “undercover” at a seminar sponsored by the International Healing Foundation — whose director, ex-gay Christopher Doyle, was in the audience as a witness against the bill. (Later in the hearing, Wolfe was scolded to his face by an ex-gay witness, Chuck, for having violated confidences by writing publicly about private and personal conversations he had with him at the conference.)

Encouraging, in a back-handed sort of way, was the apparent disinterest of the DC Council members in this topic. The Committee on Health has five members, but only the chairman, Yvette Alexander, was present for the whole hearing. Even the sponsor of the bill, Mary Cheh, failed to make an appearance — not even to give a three-minute testimony like the rest of us (Cheh is not a member of the Health Committee, and she did have a staffer present to monitor the entire hearing.) It appeared one other member sent a staffer for only part of the hearing. Local media also ignored the hearing with only the “gay” media and a crew from CBN News showing up.

The only other actual Councilmember to show up at all was the openly “gay” David Catania, who is currently an Independent candidate waging a long-shot campaign for mayor. Catania only stayed for about ten minutes, but that was plenty of time for him to make a negative impression.

One point that many advocates made is that SOCE is based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness — a position that was abandoned by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, in response to a campaign of intellectual terrorism undertaken by a small but zealous band of homosexual activists within the organization. Strictly speaking, however, this claim by SOCE critics is untrue. The more fundamental premise of SOCE is the undeniable and observable fact that some people who experience same-sex attractions experience them as something unwanted.

Therefore, no premise is needed to justify SOCE beyond the long-established ethical principle in counseling that the client — not the therapist — has the right to establish the goals for therapy.

While none of the witnesses against the proposed ban claimed that all homosexuals are mentally ill, Councilman Catania did not hesitate to declare that all of us — therapy clients and straight allies alike — are mentally ill.

Those with same-sex attractions who seek sexual reorientation therapy to overcome those attractions are, according to Catania (who is not a mental health professional), suffering from the “illness” of “internalized hatred,” a condition which causes them to “deny who they are” and “seek to be something they are not.”

Heterosexuals who support the freedom of homosexuals to choose to seek change, on the other hand, suffer from the “illness” of “internalized superiority.” This condition causes them to believe “they are superior to us who are LGBTQ.” In a remarkable display of unqualified psychotherapy of people he has never met, Catania declared, “If you take that superiority away from them, what is left? An emptiness, a void, a profound sadness.”

The low point of Catania’s shameful performance, however, came when he decided to browbeat one of the youngest witnesses at the hearing, a man in his mid-20’s named Nathan who is a current client of IHF. Nathan did not claim to be “cured” of homosexuality, admitting honestly that he is a “work in progress.” Catania wanted to know if Nathan felt “shame, guilty, inadequacy, and inferiority as a teenager, and asked, “What other than self-hate makes you want to change?”

Catania appeared to be fishing for an answer related to religion, family shaming, or a belief that homosexuality is a mental illness, in order to mount an attack. Nathan, however, did not take the bait, insisting calmly that “personal dissatisfaction with two years in the gay lifestyle” was the only reason he made the free choice to seek therapy. At one point Christopher Doyle of IHF became so disgusted that he interrupted Catania’s interrogation saying, “I find this whole line of questioning offensive;” whereupon Catania snapped, “We ask the questions!” Catania left shortly thereafter, without asking any questions of any of the professional therapists opposing the bill.

Chairman Alexander is a co-sponsor of the therapy ban, but in her questioning of the witnesses she betrayed such a naïve ignorance of the entire subject that she ended up playing devil’s advocate toward both sides. For example, the bill bars SOCE for anyone under age 18, but Alexander asked more than once how that could be squared with the fact that the legal “age of consent” for sexual relations is only 16. Advocates of the bill stammered to find an answer. She also reacted to the testimony by several of the ex-gay witnesses that they had been sexually abused as children, voicing the politically incorrect speculation that for those people, at least, homosexuality might not be biologically determined.

David Pickup, an ex-gay who is a licensed therapist, spoke of having been sexually abused at the age of five, and warned that the bill would make it illegal to help a heterosexual boy reduce homosexual feelings perpetrated by sexual abuse. This left the mental health representatives who support the bill scrambling to explain that it would not prevent therapy for sexual abuse, while failing to explain how the therapist would dance around the question of whether such abuse contributed to same-sex attractions.

In my own testimony, I focused on research by the nation’s leading expert on homosexual teenagers showing how fluid teen sexuality can be. In one major survey, of the adolescent boys who identified themselves as exclusively homosexual one year, only 11% continued to identify as exclusively homosexual just one year later, and nearly half had become exclusively heterosexual.

During questioning, I also had the opportunity to clarify some misunderstood points about SOCE. One involved the terminology itself — “sexual orientation change efforts” is the broadest term, including religious interventions as well as professional therapy; “sexual reorientation therapy” is a general term for a variety of therapies; and “reparative therapy” is actually a particular therapeutic approach (most closely associated with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi). “Reparative therapy,” in turn, is not based on the theory that homosexuals are “broken” and must be “repaired,” as most assume. It is based instead on a belief that homosexuality itself is a “reparative” drive which springs from other underlying hurts. If those underlying issues (not directly related to “sexual orientation”) can be relieved by other means in therapy, then the “need” for homosexuality goes away, and with it the same-sex attractions.

I also emphasized how unprecedented it is until now for any form of mental health treatment to be forbidden by law merely because of the goal toward which the treatment is directed (as opposed to the particular technique). This is a direct violation of the ethical principle of the client’s autonomy to determine the goal of therapy.

Notwithstanding the large number of co-sponsors for the DC bill, it is to be hoped that the strong showing by opponents of the measure will lead it to die a quiet death — like in most of the other states where such bills have been introduced in the last year.

Three Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Assume the Supreme Court Will Redefine Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

June 25, 2014

Two more federal courts have now ruled that the natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution—a District Court in Indiana, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a case out of Utah.

There is a growing consensus among the liberal elites that it is “inevitable” that the U. S. Supreme Court will eventually declare a constitutional “right” to marry someone of the same sex. Here are three quick reasons to believe they are wrong:

1) The Court was already asked to declare such a right last year—and it refused. The supposed legal superstars Ted Olson and David Boies teamed up to challenge California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court—but that case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, ended with a whimper instead of a bang. The Court issued a narrow technical ruling that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to defend it in Court in place of state officials, who refused to do so. This ruling had the end result of allowing same-sex “marriages” to resume in California, but it established no precedent at all.

If it were clear to a majority of the Court that the U.S. Constitution requires states to allow same-sex “marriages,” it would have been easy enough to declare as much last year. The fact that they did not may indicate at least some reluctance to do so.

2) In the case of U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court did strike down the federal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, that decision was based largely on DOMA’s deviation from the tradition of the federal government deferring to state definitions of marriage. That same tradition would suggest that the Court should allow states to continue defining marriage as they choose.

3) When the current flurry of federal court decisions redefining marriage began last year, several of the lower courts involved refused to even issue a stay of their ruling pending appeal. However, the Supreme Court did issue such stays—suggesting that they are not in nearly so much of a rush to get same-sex couples to the altar or the justice of the peace as other judges are.

I’m not making bets or even predictions as to what the Supreme Court will do if and when one of these new cases reaches them. The court has issued bad, unjustified, unprecedented decisions before. I am just pointing out that there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the Court is not eager to overturn the very constitutions of a majority of these United States.

What Judge McShane thinks he knows — but is unknowable

by Peter Sprigg

June 3, 2014

Earlier, I wrote a blog post about the May 19, 2014 decision by U. S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane (Geiger v. Kitzhaber), striking down Oregon’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman — one of a series of such decisions in recent months.

Those interested in why these judges, in general terms, have it wrong should refer to the recent FRC paper, Marriage on Trial: State Laws Defining Marriage as the Union of One Man and One Woman Are Valid under the Constitution of the United States.

I noted that one maddening aspect of the Geiger decision in particular was Judge McShane’s sense of certainty in asserting things which are either a) blatantly false, or b) inherently unknowable.

In the former category (blatantly false) is virtually everything McShane says about the research on children raised by homosexual parents, including his declaration that “children fare the same whether raised by opposite-gender or same-gender couples.”

On the issue of homosexual parenting, however, McShane has a body of methodologically flawed and biased research that tends to support his view, as well as a collection of ideologically-driven policy statements by large professional organizations.

Even less defensible, however, are the blanket statements he made about the impact redefining marriage would have on the institution of marriage in the future — or rather, the lack of impact it would have.

For example, McShane declared:

Opposite-sex couples will continue to choose to have children responsibly or not, and those considerations are not impacted in any way by whether same-gender couples are allowed to marry.”

Quoting another judge on the next page, McShane added:

Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.”

To both of these statements, my response is: “How can you possibly know?”

Decisions about public policy issues (which are actually not the purview of judges — but that’s for another piece) must, of course, rest on at least some informed predictions of what the consequences of a particular course of action will be. 

I made my own set of predictions about the consequences of redefining marriage in a 2011 FRC booklet, The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex “Marriage.” My predictions directly contradicted those made by Judge McShane, and included these points:

  • Fewer people would marry
  • Fewer people would remain married for a lifetime
  • Fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father
  • More children would grow up fatherless; and
  • Birth rates would fall.

However, there are two key differences between my predictions and McShane’s. I, at least, qualified them with the statement that they were “ways in which society could be harmed by legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’” (emphasis added), whereas McShane declared dogmatically what “will” and “will not” take place. In addition, he did so in the absence of any supporting evidence, whereas I offered specific, tangible evidence in support of my predictions.

Let me offer an updated overview of at least one of these issues, perhaps the most fundamental one. McShane declares, “Opposite-sex couples will continue to choose to have children . . .”

Will they? Of course, we may assume that some will continue to do so, but birth rates in many countries have been falling, with negative consequences already evident or easy to anticipate. (See, for instance, the books The Empty Cradle by Philip Longman, and What to Expect When No One’s Expecting by Jonathan V. Last.)

Would same-sex “marriage” result in lower birth rates? It is too early to identify a causal relationship between the two. It may be that a retreat from a procreative view of marriage contributes to both declining birth rates and the redefinition of marriage to include intrinsically non-procreative relationships. Yet while there are multiple confounding factors at work, there is evidence of at least a correlation between redefining marriage to include homosexual couples and lower birth and fertility rates.

For example, early this year, I researched the latest state-by-state data in the U.S. regarding three key measures of what we might call “reproductivity.” The “birth rate” as such represents the number of annual births per 1,000 total population. The “general fertility rate” is the number of annual births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years (a general estimate of the childbearing years). Finally, the “total fertility rate” represents the “estimated number of births over a woman’s lifetime” (per 1,000 women).

The most recent national data available, published in December 2013, was a final report for 2012. I took the state data reported and listed the states in rank order for each of the three measures. I then compared these lists with the list of U.S. states that had authorized the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Omitting states with recent (2014) court rulings, but including Illinois (which did not issue such licenses until this week but whose legislature authorized the change last year), there were seventeen states that had redefined marriage. Here is how they stacked up, compared to those states retaining a one-man-one-woman definition.

With respect to the birth rate:

  • All of the bottom 6 states in birth rate have same-sex “marriage” (SSM)
  • None of the top 9 states in birth rate have SSM
  • 8 of the bottom 15 states in birth rate have SSM
  • Only 2 of the top 15 states have SSM
  • Average rank of SSM states in birth rate: 32nd

With respect to the general fertility rate:

  • All of the bottom 6 states in general fertility rate have same-sex “marriage”
  • None of the top 7 states have SSM
  • 10 of the bottom 15 states have SSM
  • Only 2 of the top 15 states have SSM
  • Average rank of states with SSM in general fertility rate: 34th

With respect to the total fertility rate:

  • All of the bottom 6 states in total fertility rate have same-sex “marriage”
  • None of the top 7 states have SSM
  • 8 of the bottom 12 states have SSM
  • Only 1 of the top 12 states has SSM
  • 12 of the 17 SSM states are below the national average
  • Only 5 of the 17 SSM states are above the national average
  • Average rank of states with SSM: 33rd

Overall:

  • There are 12 states which rank in the top 15 in all three categories; only 1 of them has same-sex “marriage” (Hawaii)
  • There are 8 states which rank in the bottom 10 in all three categories; 6 of the 8 (the 6 New England states) have SSM

Judge McShane should re-think his certainty that redefining marriage would have no impact on the larger institution.

Obama Milks Homosexual Support

by Peter Sprigg

May 27, 2014

The White House announced that on May 22, 2014, it would unveil a new postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk — the openly homosexual San Francisco Supervisor who was assassinated in 1978.

Milk is an icon to the homosexual political movement. When Obama, in his first year in office, granted Milk a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, I researched his life. I’ve linked to that research here, as published by WorldNetDaily:

A presidential medal based on a sex life

When President Obama today awards a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk, it may mark the first time in history that the nation’s highest civilian award has been granted primarily on the basis of someone’s sex life.

As the White House announcement explained, “Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.” Yet Milk served in that office for less than a year, so that hardly qualifies him for the Medal of Freedom. Milk was also assassinated in November of 1978. But that cannot qualify him for this award, either – San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was killed by the same assassin the same day, but he will receive no Medal of Freedom. At least lesbian Billie Jean King, who will also be honored by Obama, was a genuine tennis star.

But Milk is famous only for winning one election, being murdered – and having sex with men. In his “gay rights” stump speech, Milk once said, “Like every other group, we must be judged by our leaders and by those who are themselves gay.” What can we conclude about the homosexual movement in America based on the life of Harvey Milk? I recently decided to find out by reading “gay journalist” Randy Shilts’ 1982 biography of Milk, “The Mayor of Castro Street.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

What Judge McShane thinks he knows — but is false

by Peter Sprigg

May 21, 2014

Federal judges seem to have entered into an echo chamber of political correctness in their recent rulings in support of the homosexual redefinition of marriage. They ignore or deny obvious truths (like the importance of procreation to the natural definition of marriage), while dogmatically asserting as true things which are either blatantly false or inherently unknowable.

The May 19, 2014 decision by U. S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane (Geiger v. Kitzhaber), striking down Oregon’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, was yet another example. I will not bother going through his decision point by point to refute it, since it varies little from the similar decisions handed down by other judges in recent months. Those interested in why these judges have it wrong should refer to the recent FRC paper, Marriage on Trial: State Laws Defining Marriage as the Union of One Man and One Woman Are Valid under the Constitution of the United States.

In the case of the Geiger decision, I would just like to point out Judge McShane’s maddening sense of certainty in asserting things which are either a) blatantly false, or b) inherently unknowable.

In the former category (blatantly false) is virtually everything McShane says about the research on children raised by homosexual parents. The judge first notes that under Oregon law, the “relationship between child and parents is the same regardless of parents’ marital status,” and regardless of how the child was conceived.

Oregon’s policies accept that children fare the same whether raised by opposite-gender or same-gender couples,” McShane then declares.

He cites a judge in Michigan who declared that “there is simply no scientific basis to conclude that children raised in same-sex households fare worse than those raised in heterosexual households.” He cites the decision of Judge Vaughn Walker (who, like McShane, is himself homosexual) in the California Proposition 8 case, saying, “Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful, and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology.”

McShane concludes, “The realization that same-gender couples make just as good parents as opposite-gender couples is supported by more than just common sense; it is also supported by ‘the vast majority of scientific studies’ examining the issue.”

It is hardly “common sense” to conclude that there is no advantage whatsoever to a child being raised by the man and woman who united to create it, nor to assert that homosexual couples constitute the lone exception to the overwhelmingly body of evidence that children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to each other in a life-long marriage.

It may be true that the numerical count of “studies” purporting to support homosexual parenting is larger than the count of those questioning it; but this lack of “serious debate” is not because of the weight of scientific evidence, but because violating the ideological dictates of the pro-homosexual academy is likely to destroy a scholar’s career.

A summary of the older (pre-2004) evidence on children of homosexual parents can be found online in the FRC book, Getting It Straight. A more recent landmark was the 2012 publication of data from the New Family Structures Study of sociologist Mark Regnerus, which “show rather clearly that children raised by gay or lesbian parents on average are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children raised by the intact family of their married, biological mother and father.”

Almost as important, if not more so, was the article by Loren Marks in the same issue of Social Science Research, in which he pointed out the serious methodological weaknesses of the pro-homosexual parenting studies that are usually cited, saying, ““[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced  … compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children.”

FRC previously published an overview of these studies, as well as a more detailed summary of the findings of the New Family Structures Study. (Homosexual activists are fond of referring to the Regnerus study as “discredited,” but this is simply untrue. Regnerus was completely exonerated of charges of academic misconduct by his employer, the University of Texas; and while an “internal audit” commissioned by Social Science Research was highly critical, the journal did not withdraw the paper.)

The Regnerus study does not stand alone in raising concerns about children of homosexual parents. Since it was published, there have been at least two other major studies using large sample sizes which have found similar deficits for such children on specific outcomes. One using U. S. Census data found, “Primary schoolchildren in married heterosexual households are 35 percent more likely to make typical school progress than peers in same-sex households.” Another based on the Canadian census reported “that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples.”

While Judge McShane devoted a page to claims about what “the vast majority of scientific studies” say about homosexual parents, perhaps he was actually driven more by his own experience. McShane, an Obama appointee who has only been on the federal bench for a year, is openly homosexual and “is raising a child in a same-sex relationship,” according to USA Today.

Although making no comment about his partner, McShane did write about his son:

Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today’s generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says “dad … that is so gay.”

Will he declare eye-rolling to be unconstitutional next?

Do Pro-Homosexual Policies Promote Economic Growth? In a Word — No.

by Peter Sprigg

May 8, 2014

Activists use a number of arguments in support of the homosexual political agenda (that is, the push for things like a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples, or the inclusion of “sexual orientation” as a protected category in civil rights laws). One of the more ridiculous arguments is the claim that such measures would actually improve the economy of a state.

I was in Indiana earlier this year when that state’s legislature was debating a state constitutional amendment, like those already adopted in thirty other states, to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Homosexual activists (and their fellow travelers in some large corporations) asserted that preserving the existing definition of marriage would make it hard to recruit employees. (Legislators ended up trying to have it both ways — passing an amendment but watering it down in a way that prevented it from going to voters for approval this year.)

Then just last week, a group calling itself “Business Leaders for Michigan” endorsed a statewide homosexual rights bill, declaring as part of its “Michigan Turnaround Plan” that the state should “prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation for employment just like we do for race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability,” in order to “make Michigan an aspirational destination by being a welcoming place to all.”

Fortunately, these claims readily lend themselves to empirical evaluation. The website of Business Leaders for Michigan says right at the top that the group is “dedicated to making Michigan a ‘Top Ten’ state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy.” When interviewed on a local NPR station, Doug Rothwell, the group’s President and CEO, added another goal, declaring, “We want to make sure that we can grow our population. Population growth strongly correlates to economic growth.”

So, you want to be a “Top Ten” state in “jobs,” “personal income,” and “population growth?” Well, it’s easy enough to find data on which states are currently in the “Top Ten” in those areas. Then we can see if there is a correlation between that status and the presence of homosexual rights laws or same-sex “marriage” (or actions to prevent it).

In the following lists, a state which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (as is being proposed in Michigan) is marked with an asterisk (*). A state which issues civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples is in italics. A state whose voters have amended their state constitution to protect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, on the other hand (as is being proposed in Indiana) appears in bold.

Here is a list of the “10 States With [the] Biggest Rate of Job Growth in 2013,” as projected by Kiplinger in March of 2013:

1. Utah

2. Nevada*

3. Hawaii*

4. South Carolina

5. Colorado*

6. Idaho

7. Florida

8. Texas

9. North Carolina

10. Arizona

Here is a list of the “Top 10 fastest-growing states” in population, as compiled by CBS MoneyWatch on January 18, 2014:

1. North Dakota

2. Utah

3. Colorado*

4. Texas

5. Nevada*

6. South Dakota

7. Florida

8. Arizona

9. Washington*

10. South Carolina

Finally, here is a list of the top ten states in personal income growth from 2012 to 2013, as reported by the Department of Commerce on March 25, 2014:

1. North Dakota

2. Utah

3. Idaho

4. Texas

5. Oregon*

6. Colorado*

7. Oklahoma

8. Washington*

9. Iowa*

10. Nebraska

Nationwide, there are 21 states (42% of the fifty states) which treat “sexual orientation” as a protected category in civil rights laws. Among the fastest growing states in job growth, only three (30%) have such laws; among the fastest growing in population, only three (30% have such laws); and among the fastest growing in personal income, only four (40%) have such laws. Combining these lists, 17 states appear at least once; of these, only six (35%) have protected “sexual orientation.” There is simply no strong correlation between the existence of such laws and economic growth — if anything, the fast-growing states are slightly less likely to have embraced special employment protections for homosexuals.

On the marriage issue, the results are more clear-cut — and show the opposite of what the homosexual activists claim. Nationwide, there are 31 states (62% of the fifty states) where voters have amended their state constitutions to prevent the redefinition of marriage. In all but one of those, the amendment fixed the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. (In Hawaii, the amendment reserved to the legislature the power to define marriage, taking the issue out of the hands of judges, but the legislature recently voted to allow “marriages” of same-sex couples.) There are 17 states (34%) that have redefined “marriage” to authorize the issuance of civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But when it comes to the top states in job growth, all ten are states where voters adopted marriage amendments of some type; in only one (10%) are marriage licenses issued to homosexual couples (see note on Hawaii above). Among the top states in population growth, nine (90%) have marriage amendments, while only one (Washington) has redefined marriage. Finally, among the top states in personal income growth, only two (Washington and Iowa) allow same-sex “marriages,” while the other eight (80%) all have marriage amendments. (Iowa never adopted a marriage amendment, but its voters did remove from office three of the state Supreme Court justices who redefined marriage in a court decision). In total only three of the seventeen states on any of these lists (18%) has same-sex “marriage,” while voters in fifteen (88%) took some action to prevent the redefining of marriage. If anything, there appears to be a fairly significant correlation between economic growth and the defense of the natural, one-man-one-woman definition of marriage — not the abandonment of that definition.

It’s time to drop the nonsense about the homosexual agenda promoting economic growth once and for all.

Why Do Courts (and the Media) Ignore Federal Precedent on Marriage?

by Peter Sprigg

January 16, 2014

Advocates for changing the fundamental definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in order to include homosexual relationships have been encouraged by two recent decisions by federal district court judges.

On December 20, Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution. On January 14, Judge Terence C. Kern said the same thing about the Oklahoma marriage amendment.

However, one odd aspect of both rulings is their failure to cite one of the most relevant precedents regarding the constitutionality of state definitions of marriage as a male-female union.

Only two federal appellate courts have ever ruled on the constitutionality of a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. One was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which in 2012 ruled (on narrow grounds specific to California) that California’s marriage amendment “Proposition 8” was unconstitutional.

However, in one of two major decisions on marriage in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit ruling, on grounds that the proponents of Proposition 8 had lacked proper standing to appeal a district court decision. (Liberal state officials had refused to defend their own constitution at all.)

With the Ninth Circuit’s ruling having been effectively wiped off the books, the only remaining federal appeals court precedent involves a challenge to Nebraska’s marriage amendment. In that case, too, a district court judge, Joseph F. Bataillon, ruled in 2005 that the amendment was unconstitutional.

However, a year later, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Bataillon’s decision and upheld the Nebraska amendment. This 2006 decision thus remains the highest federal court ruling with a written opinion on state definitions of marriage as one man and one woman.

Yet oddly, neither Judge Shelby in Utah nor Judge Kern in Oklahoma saw fit to even mention this decision. Neither judge’s district is in the Eighth Circuit (both are in the Tenth), so the Bruning case is not binding upon them — but given the relative dearth of such cases that have reached the federal appellate level, it seems odd that it not be mentioned at all.

Below are some excerpts from the opinion, written by Chief Judge James B. Loken:

Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006)

. . .

The State argues that the many laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and extending a variety of benefits to married couples are rationally related to the government interest in “steering procreation into marriage.” By affording legal recognition and a basket of rights and benefits to married heterosexual couples, such laws “encourage procreation to take place within the socially recognized unit that is best situated for raising children.” The State and its supporting amici cite a host of judicial decisions and secondary authorities recognizing and upholding this rationale. The argument is based in part on the traditional notion that two committed heterosexuals are the optimal partnership for raising children, which modern-day homosexual parents understandably decry. But it is also based on a “responsible procreation” theory that justifies conferring the inducements of marital recognition and benefits on opposite-sex couples, who can otherwise produce children by accident, but not on same-sex couples, who cannot. See Hernandez v. Robles [New York, 2006]; Morrison v. Sadler, [Indiana, 2005]. Whatever our personal views regarding this political and sociological debate, we cannot conclude that the State’s justification “lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.” Romer, 517 U.S. at 632.3

The district court rejected the State’s justification as being “at once too broad and too narrow.” But under rational-basis review, “Even if the classification … is to some extent both underinclusive and overinclusive, and hence the line drawn … imperfect, it is nevertheless the rule that … perfection is by no means required.” Vance v. Bradley (1979). Legislatures are permitted to use generalizations so long as “the question is at least debatable.” The package of government benefits and restrictions that accompany the institution of formal marriage serve a variety of other purposes. The legislature — or the people through the initiative process — may rationally choose not to expand in wholesale fashion the groups entitled to those benefits. “We accept such imperfection because it is in turn rationally related to the secondary objective of legislative convenience.” [Vance].

. . .

Appellees argue that § 29 [the marriage amendment] does not rationally advance this purported state interest because “prohibiting protection for gay people’s relationships” does not steer procreation into marriage. This demonstrates, Appellees argue, that § 29’s only purpose is to disadvantage gay people. But the argument disregards the expressed intent of traditional marriage laws — to encourage heterosexual couples to bear and raise children in committed marriage relationships.

. . .

In the nearly one hundred and fifty years since the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, to our knowledge no Justice of the Supreme Court has suggested that a state statute or constitutional provision codifying the traditional definition of marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause or any other provision of the United States Constitution. Indeed, in Baker v. Nelson (1972), when faced with a Fourteenth Amendment challenge to a decision by the Supreme Court of Minnesota denying a marriage license to a same-sex couple, the United States Supreme Court dismissed “for want of a substantial federal question.” (Emphasis added.)

. . .

We hold that § 29 and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.

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