Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Ending the Secular Witch Hunt

by Peter Sprigg

August 26, 2016

Review of:

It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, by Mary Eberstadt (New York: Harper, 2016).

Mary Eberstadt offers a concise diagnosis of the growing problem of hostility to religious freedom in the Western world, in her new book, It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies.

Her historical analysis notes that, contrary to progressivist myths about Christians exercising “theocratic” power, the influence of religion has been generally in decline ever since the French Revolution. However, she cites two recent historical events as triggering a more virulent hostility to religion—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which raised concern about the dangers of religious fanaticism; and the Catholic priest sex abuse scandals revealed in 2002, which solidified cynicism about institutional religion.

Eberstadt also cites two key legal battles in which the secular left discounted the importance of protecting religious liberty—the HHS contraceptive mandate in Obamacare; and the Supreme Court’s 2015 redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The Obama administration’s insistence on forcing an order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to pay for abortifacient contraceptives is cited as an example of how the poor—supposedly the subjects of progressive concern—are subordinated to other ideological goals. She points out the abundances of charitable works and social services provided by religious believers, and notes that these agencies simply cannot be replaced by their secular or government-run counterparts. Yet secular progressives prefer to shut such agencies down (like they have Catholic adoption agencies that dare give preference to mother-father households) rather than allow dissent from the progressive worldview. Another chapter highlights how Christian education—whether in the form of student groups, distinctively Christian institutions, or homeschooling—has also been in the crosshairs of the Left.

Eberstadt argues, however, that the secular progressivism is not merely anti-faith, but actually represents a competing faith, explaining that “the sexual revolution has given rise to a new secularist faith of its own whose founding principles are the primacy of pleasure and self-will.” This faith actually mirrors Christianity in some ways, with its own “secular saints” (Sanger, Kinsey), “foreign missionaries,” “quasi-demonology,” and “canon of texts and doctrine.”

They believe they are in possession of a higher truth,” Eberstadt explains, “and they fight to universalize it.” This helps explain the ferocity of their attacks upon those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian morality—“the only remaining minority that can be mocked and denigrated … [n]ot to mention fired, fined, or otherwise punished for their beliefs.”

Eberstadt does not hesitate to describe the attacks on believers as a “witch hunt”—and to compare them directly and in detail with similar “moral panics” in the past, including the day-care sexual abuse hysteria of the 1980’s, the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, and the granddaddy of them all, the Salem witch trials of 1692. “‘Bigot’ and ‘hater’ are the new ‘wizard’ and ‘witch,’” she explains; “epithets that intentionally demean and dehumanize.” Yet even serious consequences—like the armed assault upon the Family Research Council offices in Washington in 2012—has not deterred activists like those at the Southern Poverty Law Center from employing such inflammatory language.

Progressives claim that conservative Christians are on “the wrong side of history”—but Eberstadt flips that argument on its head, declaring that “today’s ideological stalking and punishing of Christians is going to look contemptible in history’s rearview mirror.”

This leads to the most distinctive aspect of Eberstadt’s argument. Unlike others who have written on similar topics, Eberstadt does not say the solution is for Christians to mobilize and defend themselves. Other witch hunts were not ended by their victims, and she warns that this one will not be, either. Instead, she calls on liberals themselves to return to liberal values—such as tolerance, freedom of speech and association, and respect for true diversity. We must, she says, “agree to disagree”—affirming “the right to be wrong,” as author Seamus Hasson has put it.

American history already gives us the model for this resolution of the culture war, Eberstadt argues—Thomas Jefferson, whose misunderstood “wall of separation between Church & State” was intended to protect religious liberty, not to stifle it.

Empirical and philosophical critiques of the sexual revolution are legitimate subjects for debate,” Eberstadt asserts, and those who disagree with them should nonetheless “do the right thing by listening to what [critics] have to say, and acknowledging their American right to say it.”

People on both sides of the culture wars would gain by reading and heeding Eberstadt’s thoughtful analysis.

(Note: Chris Gacek and I interviewed Mary Eberstadt about her book on the FRC daily radio program, “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” on August 18. That interview can be heard here.)

Five Things to Know About “Gender Dysphoria” in Children

by Peter Sprigg

August 19, 2016

Gender dysphoria” (GD) is a condition in which a person may feel unhappy with his or her biological sex, express a desire to be the opposite sex, or even insist that he or she is of the opposite sex from what his or her genes and anatomy indicate. People who choose to adopt a “gender identity” different from their biological sex are known as “transgender.”

This condition is increasingly being identified not merely in adults, but even in very young, pre-pubescent children. The American College of Pediatricians (an organization formed as an alternative to the larger and more liberal American Academy of Pediatrics), has now released an important paper on “Gender Dysphoria in Children.” It provides a significant medical and scientific counterweight to the growing ideology that demands affirmation of “transgender” identities—even in children.

I encourage those interested to read the College’s press release and the full study. For those wanting a brief summary, however, here are five key points I took away from the paper.

1)      There is no scientific evidence that people with gender dysphoria are “born in the wrong body.”

Those who identify as transgender often claim that they are “women born in men’s bodies” or “men born in women’s bodies.” Yet the scientific evidence put forward in support of this theory is weak. In fact, studies of twins have shown that when one twin identifies as transgender, only 20% of the time does the other twin also identify as transgender. This finding alone disproves the idea that gender dysphoria results primarily from prenatal genetic or hormonal influences. (Note: “gender dysphoria” is not the same as biological “disorders of sexual development”—DSD—or “intersex” conditions. The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are entirely normal males or females genetically and biologically.)

2)      Most children who experience gender dysphoria do not grow up to identify as transgender adults.

Research has shown that, left to themselves—that is, if they are not given special hormone treatments and not permitted to “transition” into living socially as a person of the opposite sex—most children who exhibit symptoms of “gender dysphoria” will resolve those issues before adulthood and will live as normal males or females with a “gender identity” that corresponds to (rather than conflicts with) their biological sex at birth. Historically, this has been true of between 80% and 95% of gender dysphoric children.

3)      Despite #2, many children with gender dysphoria are now being funneled into a treatment protocol that involves both early and ongoing hormone treatments.

It is one thing (and radical enough) for someone born a boy to be allowed to start living as a girl, or vice versa (that is, to “socially transition”). However, some children (as young as 11) are actually being given hormones to block the natural effects of puberty before it begins. The physical differences between male and female children (when clothed) are relatively small and fairly easy to conceal with clothing. Those differences become greater after puberty, which in turn makes it more difficult for a teenager who identifies as transgender to “pass” as a member of the opposite biological sex. Puberty blockers are intended to forestall that “problem.”

Then when they are older (although sometimes as young as 16), they may begin to receive “cross-sex hormones” (e.g., estrogen for males who identify as female, or testosterone for females who identify as male). These continue the suppression of characteristics of their biological sex, while triggering some of the characteristics of the intended gender (such as breast growth or development of facial hair).

4)      Such hormone treatments may have serious negative health consequences—both known and unknown.

Supporters of puberty-blocking hormones contend that their effects are reversible, giving a child the opportunity to change his or her mind about gender “transition” upon reaching adulthood. Case studies show, however, that in reality such an intervention puts the child on a nearly inevitable path to a transgender identity—in sharp contrast to most gender dysphoric children who are not so treated. Completion of the entire protocol of both puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones (especially when followed by sex reassignment surgery) results in permanent sterility—the inability to ever have biological children, even using artificial reproductive technology. The American College of Pediatricians argues, “The treatment of GD in childhood with hormones effectively amounts to mass experimentation on, and sterilization of, youth who are cognitively incapable of providing informed consent.”

As for cross-sex hormones, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature found, “There are potentially long-term safety risks associated with hormone therapy, but none have been proven or conclusively ruled out.” For example, giving estrogen to biological males may place them at risk for cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, gall bladder disease, and breast cancer; while giving testosterone to biological females may be associated with elevated triglycerides, sleep apnea, and insulin resistance—in addition to the risks associated with obtaining a double mastectomy, which some may do when only 16 years old.

5)      Research shows that “severe psychopathology and developmental difficulties” often precede the development of gender dysphoria.

A more compassionate approach to caring for children with gender dysphoria would involve what was once the “standard approach”—either “watchful waiting” or psychotherapy “to address familial pathology if it was present, treat any psychosocial morbidities in the child, and aid the child in aligning gender identity with biological sex.” Children are in no position to given meaningful “informed consent” for more serious and potentially hazardous procedures such as hormone therapy.

Who’s Waging a War on Science? (Hint: It’s Not Conservatives)

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2016

Liberals often accuse conservatives of being hostile to science, and insist that they will rely only on “evidence-based” policies. The questioning of scientific claims that we face catastrophic human-induced global warming, and efforts to teach critiques of evolutionary theory in school biology classes, are two of the most frequently-cited example of conservatives’ supposed “war on science.”

Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School, however, points out in Public Discourse that this supposed liberal reverence for science is itself a myth and a deception. When it comes to some areas of policy—those involving any aspect of the sexual revolution and the demand for a “right” to sex of any kind without consequences—the Left abandons science in favor of ideology every time.

Whether it is the humanity of the unborn, the harms of abortion, the benefits of contraception, the advantages of abstinence, the origins of homosexuality, or the reality of biological sex, the Left has no patience for science incompatible with their worldview.

I am especially grateful that he mentions sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE (what its enemies—and none of its practitioners—call “conversion therapy”). Even some Republicans have been influenced by the LGBT’s constant drumbeat on this issue (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Christie), and several states have actually outlawed such treatment for minors. One has to be very familiar with the scientific research to know that there is no scientific research regarding the impact of SOCE on minors—only unscientific anecdotes.

This is an important and valuable article. Check out President Obama’s Sex-Driven War on Science.

PolitiFact Falsifies Family Findings

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2016

In an interview on July 17, Chuck Todd of NBC challenged Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus regarding a passage in the Republican platform dealing with family structure, which includes the statements:

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime, or become pregnant outside of marriage.

and:

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad.

Priebus defended the platform plank, affirming that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

That same day, PolitiFact released an article that rated Priebus’ statement “False.”

A rating along the lines of “Requires clarification” might have been defensible. However, in light of the available evidence, rating the statement “False” is nothing short of bizarre. It destroys not Priebus’ credibility, but PolitiFact’s as a neutral arbiter.

In October 2014, PolitiFact offered a similar critique of a similar statement by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. A detailed response was posted on the Family Research Council blog, all of which is still valid. Following is a summary with information on some more recent research.

What the research on family structure shows

Here are some other professional organizations which have made statements similar to that in the platform:

The non-partisan, non-profit research group Child Trends has reported, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

The anti-poverty group the Center for Law and Social Policy reported, “Research indicates that, on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step- or cohabiting-parent households. Compared to children who are raised by their married parents, children in other family types are more likely to achieve lower levels of education, to become teen parents, and to experience health, behavior, and mental health problems.”

The Institute for American Values declared (as one of its “fundamental conclusions” about “what current social science evidence reveals about marriage in our social system”), “The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States, insofar as children are most likely to thrive—economically, socially, and psychologically—in this family form.”

One example of the type of research being summarized in those statements is the federal survey data published in 2014 which showed that “children living with two biological parents” (which by definition includes a “mom and dad”) are fifteen times less likely “to have had four or more adverse experiences” than children in any other living situation.

These statements alone should be sufficient to designate Priebus’ innocuous statement as “true.”

Not just about parents who identify as homosexual

The clarification that might be justified is that these broad and entirely accurate summaries of the research on family structure are based primarily on studies that did not focus specifically on a comparison with children raised by parents who identify as homosexual or by same-sex couples. However, the platform passage did not limit its conclusion to such comparisons, either. Omitted from mention in Todd’s questioning of Priebus were the following references in the platform to cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and single-parent households:

We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. Moreover, marriage remains the greatest antidote to child poverty. The 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than youngsters born and raised by a mother and father in the home. Nearly three-quarters of the $450 billion government annually spends on welfare goes to single-parent households.

Instead, Todd focused only on same-sex parents, saying, “It’s implying that somehow children of same-sex couples are more likely to be addicts? To engage in crime?” Chuck Todd’s single-minded focus on same-sex parents was deceptive regarding the context of the platform language—and PolitiFact should have noted that and called him out on it.

What about the research on parents who identify as homosexual?

Nevertheless, it is also true that the platform says that “the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman,” and it declares, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” as well as saying, “Every child deserves a married mom and dad.” Since same-sex couples do not meet this definition of marriage and do not provide both a mom and a dad, a clarification of what the research on parents who identify as homosexual shows is also in order.

PolitiFact refers to only two sources for its conclusion: a one-page summary of the findings of “78 scholarly studies” on “the wellbeing of children with gay or lesbian parents” published by Columbia Law School (which concludes that “children of gay or lesbian parents fare no worse than other children”); and a longer research summary on “LGB-Parent Families” published by a pro-homosexual think tank, The Williams Institute (which concludes that “LGB parents and their children are functioning quite well”).

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit the “intact biological family”

In evaluating any particular study that relates to “gay or lesbian parents,” it is crucial to be aware of what is being compared to what, and what conclusions can legitimately be drawn (or evaluated) from the findings.

For example, it is true that there have been a large number of studies which purport to show that children raised by “gay or lesbian” parents “do just as well” as, or show “no differences” from, children raised by “straight” or “heterosexual” parents. However, when you dig down you discover that many of these studies do not feature a comparison between children raised by “gay or lesbian parents” and children raised by the intact biological family—that is, children raised from birth by their married, biological mother and biological father. Instead, the comparison is with children who have heterosexual parents, but from single-parent, divorced, or step-parent households, for example.

Studies which look at children of “gay parents,” but which do not include the intact biological family as a comparison group, can tell us exactly nothing about whether “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

Furthermore, these studies, although numerous, suffer from serious methodological limitations, such as the use of very small, non-random “convenience” samples (gathered by advertising in “gay” publications, for example). Referring to a defense of parents who identify as homosexual by the American Psychological Association (APA), researcher Loren Marks reported in 2012, “[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief 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.”

The Columbia publication cited by PolitiFact downplays this, arguing that “convenience sampling is not considered a methodological flaw, but simply a limitation to generalizability.” Yet “generalizing” from such studies, without apparent “limitation,” is exactly what defenders of “gay parents”—and PolitiFact—have done.

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit same-sex couples

On the other hand, some other studies have included comparisons between the intact biological family and other family structures, including ones in which a child’s mother or father had a same-sex relationship while the child was growing up. The most widely-reported such study in recent years was the New Family Structures Study published in 2012 by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas. It showed that children raised in the intact biological family have considerable advantages over those raised in other family structures—including children with a mother or father who had a homosexual relationship. (FRC published a summary of the Regnerus study on our website, then later added a more detailed list of its findings.)

One of the criticisms that some observers made regarding the Regnerus research was that it (like most of the studies favorable to “gay parents,” it might be noted) was not based on a direct, “couples-to-couples” comparison. Many of the “fathers who had a gay relationship” and “mothers who had a lesbian relationship” never lived in the same household with the child and a same-sex partner, and almost none lived in such a household throughout the child’s growing up. (Regnerus made these facts perfectly clear in both his initial article and a later, more detailed one.) The deficits identified in the children of “gay parents,” according to these critics, were the result of household instability (e.g., one parent divorcing the other parent to “come out” as gay or lesbian), not of sexual orientation per se.

Demanding that comparisons be made only with children of “stable” same-sex couples, however, is both unreasonable and unrealistic—given that such households are extraordinarily rare. Of the 248 children in the Regnerus study whose parents had had a homosexual relationship, only two had been raised by a same-sex couple (a female couple in both cases) from birth. Even the Williams Institute survey cited by PolitiFact acknowledges at the outset, “In the majority of contemporary LGB-parent families, the children were conceived in the context of different-sex relationships,” adding that “research is needed on LGB stepfamily formation post-heterosexual divorce.”

Recent research

More recent studies have overcome some of the methodological limitations of earlier research, allowing couples-to-couples comparisons using much larger sample sizes drawn from government surveys. Canadian economist Douglas W. Allen and co-authors analyzed data from the 2000 U.S. census and reported, “Compared with traditional married households, we find that children being raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to make normal progress through school.” Another study by Allen using the 2006 Canada census found, “Children living with gay and lesbian families [a “same-sex married or common law couple”] in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families.”

Sociologist D. Paul Sullins studied data from the National Health Interview Survey that included 512 children living with same-sex couples, and found that children in households with same-sex couples “are at least twice as likely to experience serious emotional problems compared to their counterparts” in other types of households generally, and more specifically “they are at almost four (3.6) times the risk of emotional problems when compared to children residing with married biological parents.”

Other Resources

Several other organizations and publications have produced summaries within the last two years of the existing research on family structure and child outcomes, including:

The American College of Pediatricians, et al. (amicus brief, U.S. Supreme Court)

The Heritage Foundation

MercatorNet

Public Discourse

Conclusion

The Republican platform, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, did not say, “Straight parents are better than gay parents.” The primary issue addressed by summary statements on family structure like those in the platform is not “sexual orientation”—it is the benefits to children of a two-parent home, marriage, gender complementarity, and a biological relationship with both parents. Evidence suggests that children denied the first two suffer, even if their parents are “straight”; while children with openly “gay” parents are always denied the latter two, no matter how “stable” their household.

This evidence is more than sufficient to rate Priebus’ statement that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad” as “True.”

Gallup Poll Shows Few Same-Sex Couples Marry Despite Supreme Court OK

by Peter Sprigg

July 6, 2016

Noting the one-year anniversary of the 2015 Supreme Court decision redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, the Gallup organization recently released poll data on how many Americans self-identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), and how many of those are now in legally recognized civil marriages.

Marriages after Obergefell

Same-Sex Marriages Up One Year After Supreme Court Verdict” was the headline Gallup used, reporting that “approximately 123,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.” Some news outlet emphasized the growth of such relationships even more strongly, with Time saying they are “Way Up” and The Atlantic referring to “a surge in same-sex marriages in all 50 states.”

One would hardly have expected it to be otherwise, given that the Court had thrown open a door that had been closed by the state constitutions of thirty states. (Due to lower court decisions, however, only 13 states were still denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples by the time the Supreme Court ruled.)

The real news in the Gallup survey—missed by virtually every news outlet that reported on it—is not how many same-sex couples have now obtained civil marriages, but how few.

LGBT Adults Who Are Married

Gallup currently estimates 3.9% of U.S. adults are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” the report says. How many of those are married? “Currently, 9.6% of LGBT adults report being married to a same-sex spouse.”

Wait a minute—after all the hullabaloo over same-sex marriage, all the insistence that marriage was essential to affirm the dignity of lesbian and gay Americans—less than one in ten have even bothered to take advantage of this critical new “right?”

Well,” you may point out, “adults can be as young as 18 years old. They may not feel ready to marry, or they may not have found the right person yet, or they may be between relationships. Not all heterosexual adults are married at any given time, either.”

All this is true—so let’s compare the 9.6% of “LGBT adults” who are in same-sex marriages with the percentage of the general population (the vast majority heterosexual) who are married. That figure has been in decline for decades—partly because people are waiting longer to marry, partly because of an increase in cohabitation outside of marriage, and partly because of an increase in divorce.

In fact, a federal government report issued in 2014 made headlines: “Number of Unmarried Americans Now Over 50 Percent.” According to NewsMax, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the number of Americans over the age of 16 who are unmarried leapt from 37.4 percent in 1974 to 50.2 percent today.” Thus, only 49.8% (roughly five out of ten) were married.

Yet if five out of ten heterosexuals are married, and only one out of ten “LGBT” adults is in a same-sex marriage, this suggests that LGBT Americans are only one-fifth as likely to marry as are heterosexuals.

Same-Sex Couples Who Are Married

Perhaps,” you may respond, “it’s just harder for LGBT people to find partners than for heterosexuals. What about the marriage rates among people who have already found a partner they are living with?”

The Gallup report offered data on that question as well—in fact, it led with it, beginning its report by declaring, “The proportion of same-sex cohabiting couples who are married has increased from 38% to 49% in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.”

However, 49% being married means that 51% of “same-sex cohabiting couples”—an outright majority, although a slim one—are still “living together but not married.”

What about all the arguments that legal civil marriage was absolutely essential to same-sex couples, because it is the only way to provide for inheritance rights, and medical decision-making, and over a thousand other “benefits” attached to marriage under federal law? It looks like most same-sex couples can do without civil marriage after all.

Lots of opposite-sex couples cohabit instead of marrying, too,” you may say, and that is true. According to the Census Bureau, in 2015 there were 8.3 million households with opposite-sex unmarried couples—and 60 million married couples. That means that about 88% of opposite-sex couples living together were married, vs. only 12% that were cohabiting without marriage.

If the percentage of same-sex couples who reject marriage (by cohabiting instead) is 51%, and the percentage of the general public who do the same thing is only 12%, this suggests that those in homosexual relationships are over  four times more likely to reject marriage than those in heterosexual relationships are.

Handling Data

I will concede that making precisely accurate comparisons between “LGBT Americans” and non-LGBT persons using such data is sometimes a challenge. First, unless it is explicitly separated out, data for the general public includes LGBT persons (although they are only a small fraction—about one in twenty-five).

The second issue—which Gallup may want to consider in its future reports—is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons are four different populations, which really ought to be addressed separately. They tend to be lumped together only because they are perceived as having common political interests (in challenging traditional norms for their sex), not because they share sociological characteristics. Gallup distinguished them only in part, by noting, “Males who identify as LGBT are more likely than females who identify as LGBT to report being married to a same-sex spouse (10.5% vs. 8.8%, respectively).”

B” and “T” Americans and Opposite-Sex Marriages

There is no reason to expect that bisexual or transgender persons would necessarily seek marriage to a person of the same sex (although they might). It is just as likely that they would be married to someone of the opposite sex (although even defining who the opposite sex is could be problematic in the case of transgender persons).

This may help explain perhaps the most startling finding in the Gallup report, which none of the media reports even picked up on. It is this: more “LGBT Americans” are married to an opposite-sex spouse than to a same-sex one. Gallup reports that 13.6% of “LGBT Americans” are married to an opposite-sex spouse—a number 42% higher than the 9.6% of “LGBT Americans” now legally married to a same-sex spouse.

To interpret this figure, it would be helpful if Gallup had released more data specifically on those who identify as bisexual (sexually attracted to both males and females)—what percentage of “LGBT Americans” are actually “B,” and what percentage of just the “B’s” are married to or living with a same-sex vs. an opposite-sex partner. A recent federal report based on the National Survey of Family Growth said that self-identified bisexuals may actually outnumber self-identified homosexuals—narrowly among men (2.0% of the population vs. 1.9%) and widely among women (5.5% to 1.3%).

Gallup did report that 5% of LGBT’s are living with an opposite-sex partner outside of marriage. These cohabitors are 27% of the opposite-sex couples in the LGBT population, which means that even “LGBT Americans” in opposite-sex relationships are only about half as likely to reject marriage in favor of cohabitation as those in same-sex relationships.

Perhaps the most intriguing of all would be to learn how many people in the Gallup survey identify as “gay” or “lesbian,” yet are married to someone of the opposite sex. Could it be that some people place fidelity to a vow they have made to a husband or wife ahead of solidarity with their “sexual orientation?” If this number is anything other than zero, it would put the lie to Justice Anthony’s Kennedy’s assumption that one-man-one-woman marriage laws prevent “gay” or “lesbian” persons from marrying at all.

One thing should now be clear—the drive to redefine the institution of marriage was not really about marriage. The data from the Gallup report prove that most people with same-sex sexual attractions do not “need,” and do not even want, to marry. The primary purpose of redefining marriage was not to gain access to the institution of marriage, but to put the official governmental stamp of approval on homosexual relationships by declaring them identical to heterosexual ones, even though they clearly are not.

No “Discrimination” in North Carolina’s Bathroom Protections

by Peter Sprigg

June 1, 2016

Who would have thought 2016 would become the year of the “bathroom wars?” Both sides in this cultural battle have now appealed to the courts, with North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders suing President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ), while DOJ is suing North Carolina public officials. DOJ charges that the state’s House Bill 2 (HB 2, enacted in March) violates federal law.

This is a stunning claim. HB 2 codifies (for government buildings only) something that has, until recently, been completely taken for granted — namely, that multiple-user public restrooms, locker rooms, and showers are to be separated on the basis of biological sex.

HB 2 was written in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have barred “discrimination” on the basis of “gender identity.” Transgender activists interpret such laws as requiring that biological males who claim to be “women” be allowed to share restrooms, locker rooms, and showers with actual biological females. HB 2 reversed the Charlotte ordinance, leaving private businesses and organizations free to adopt whatever bathroom policy they choose.

Having a biological male in the ladies’ room would create discomfort and anxiety for many women. Furthermore, the impossibility of verifying someone’s “transgender” status would make it easy for sexual predators to exploit such laws to gain access to women and girls.

The Obama administration asserts that the state’s policy violates three federal laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of sex (among other things). The DOJ claims that the state is discriminating against transgender state employees by not allowing them to use the restroom that corresponds to their “gender identity.” Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in education. The DOJ claims that the University of North Carolina is violating this law by upholding HB 2 on its campuses.

Neither of these statutes mentions “gender identity.” They address discrimination based on “sex.” Regulations implementing them make clear that it is not sex discrimination to maintain separate sleeping quarters, restrooms, locker rooms, and showers on the basis of sex. It is absurd to think that Congress intended (in 1964 and 1972) to allow some biological males to make use of women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

The third law, the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) included a “nondiscrimination” provision based on “gender identity.” The principal intent of this was to insure that transgender persons are protected against domestic violence. It seems doubtful that the intent of Congress was to open bathrooms to the opposite biological sex.

Indeed, it would be ironic if a law ostensibly aimed at preventing violence against women ends up enabling stalking or violence by allowing biological males into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

Family Research Council believes that “gender identity” should not be a protected category under “non-discrimination” laws at all, because the behavioral choice to cross-dress (unlike, say, race) is not inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, or in the U. S. Constitution.

I do not believe that North Carolina’s HB 2 violates federal law by “discriminating” based on sex (or even “gender identity”). However, I would go further and argue that the bathroom issue does not fit into a conceptual framework of “discrimination” at all.

Usually (as in the classic case of race) we identify “discrimination” when a class of people is denied a service altogether (as when restaurants refused to serve black patrons) or when services are provided in separate facilities (as when blacks and whites were assigned to different public schools).

In the bathroom debate, however, no one is telling transgender people they can’t go to the bathroom at all. Furthermore, all sides of the debate agree that the separation of male and female restrooms, locker rooms, and showers is reasonable and acceptable, so separate facilities are not the issue.

Instead, the question is: How do we define “male” and “female?”

The conservative view is that these should be defined on the basis of objective biological sex, as identified at birth. The leftist view is that these should be defined on the basis of subjective “gender identity,” based on the individual’s internal self-perception.

This is a clash of philosophy or worldview; but it is not really an issue of “discrimination.” Separating bathrooms and other facilities on the basis of biological sex treats all people of the same biological sex the same. Separating them on the basis of “gender identity” treats all people of the same gender identity in the same way. One must choose one or the other approach — they cannot be reconciled.

The text of the Constitution and federal statutes are silent as to this philosophical choice. Therefore, neither the Justice Department nor federal judges should impose their preference for the “gender identity” paradigm upon states.

Elections Offer Chance to Restore the Rule of Sanity in Fairfax Schools

by Peter Sprigg

October 27, 2015

A decade or two ago, the homosexual movement began its long march through the public schools of the United States. Now, the transgender movement has begun to follow the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the nation’s tenth largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

Hundreds of angry citizens turned out at a School Board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board voted 10-1 with one abstention to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach about transgender issues in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the Board claimed).

The Board passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to the Fairfax Schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.” Soon, however, Board members will answer to a higher authority — the voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.

Last night, FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz).  Watch their presentations here.

Third Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month to be Marked by “Safe Exit Summit”

by Peter Sprigg

September 28, 2015

Defenders of the truth that change is possible for those with same-sex attractions will mark the Third Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month by gathering in the Washington, DC area for a “Safe Exit Summit” on Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3.

Dr. Michael L. Brown, host of The Line of Fire radio program and author of the books A Queer Thing Happened to America, Can You Be Gay and Christian? and the just-released Outlasting the Gay Revolution, will be the keynote speaker. Attorney Charles Limandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, who defended a Jewish ex-gay ministry in a New Jersey lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is scheduled to receive an award.

The Summit will also feature testimonies by individuals who have left homosexuality and entertainment by ex-gay Christian songwriter and singer Dennis Jernigan.

The principal organizers of the Safe Exit Summit are Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX); Voice of the Voiceless; and Equality and Justice for All. Family Research Council is a supporting sponsor of the event.

The “Safe Exit” term is drawn from a new program by PFOX to help churches to provide a safe space for those struggling with same-sex attractions, while also providing an exit for those who wish to escape the homosexual lifestyle.

For more information and registration, visit the Summit website.

Kentucky public officials can’t refuse to do their job … unless they’re liberal?

by Peter Sprigg

September 8, 2015

Kim Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who was recently jailed by a federal judge for her refusing to violate her Christian conscience by issuing marriage licenses under her name and by her authority for same-sex unions. One of the chief arguments made against her conduct is that public officials cannot refuse to do the duties of their job.

So as I was researching this story, I found this excerpt, from an Associated Press article shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling ordering recognition of same-sex marriage in June, rather interesting:

It began in March 2014 when Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway — a former U.S. Senate candidate who is now running for governor — decided not to appeal the initial federal court decision that overturned Kentucky’s same sex marriage ban. During an emotional news conference at the Capitol, he said that to appeal would be to defend discrimination.

However, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear later overruled Conway and hired private attorneys to defend the state’s ban in federal court.

His job as governor was to take the emotion out of it and say, ‘What’s the rule of law going to be?” said Colmon Elridge, Beshear’s longtime aide. “And the only way to do that was to get a final ruling from the Supreme Court.”

 . . .

Conway, meanwhile, has faced critics who suggest he ignored his duties as attorney general. While Republican nominee for governor Matt Bevin criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling, he especially targeted Conway, who he said “abandoned his oath of office.” Bevin said Conway’s “failure to do his job … disqualifies him from being elected to the office of governor.”

How can voters trust him not to break his oath again?” Bevin said.

Whitney Westerfield, the Republican nominee for attorney general, also blasted Conway in his reaction to the court’s decision.

Unlike Attorney General Jack Conway, who failed in his responsibility to fight for the laws of this commonwealth, as Attorney General I will act to uphold the law even as it runs counter to my personal beliefs,” Westerfield said in a news release.

Did anyone try to put Attorney General Conway in jail for refusing to do his job?

Is Homosexuality “Immutable?” Justice Kennedy’s Shaky Bridge to Redefining Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2015

Many conservative commentators have dissected Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In that case, a slim 5-4 majority declared that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution requires every state to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. One wonders what the authors of that 150 year-old amendment would have thought of this notion.

Few, however, have noted two passing comments that actually describe the key factual assumption on which the entire decision rests. Justice Kennedy declared—twice—that a homosexual orientation is “immutable.”

On p. 4 of the opinion, Kennedy writes,

 … [I]t is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions… . And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.

Then on p. 8, he says,

Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.

Why does this matter?

The “Right to Marry”

First, the core of Justice Kennedy’s argument is that homosexuals have been denied the “fundamental right to marry,” which the Court has described as a “liberty” interest protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment in earlier cases. The amendment says a state may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).

However, another key precedent concerning the analysis of “fundamental rights” under this clause, a 1997 case involving assisted suicide called Washington v. Glucksberg, has said that before a new “fundamental right” can simply be declared by the Court, there must be a “careful description” of the asserted right, and it must be shown that the “right” so described is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

This “Glucksberg test” was a serious problem for those claiming a “fundamental right” to same-sex “marriage.” It is obvious that a “careful description” of the right being asserted in the Obergefell case was “the right to marry a person of the same sex.” It is even more obvious that “the right to marry a person of the same sex” is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Justice Kennedy got around this seemingly insurmountable obstacle in two ways. First, he simply denied that the binding precedent of the Glucksberg test was actually a binding precedent. Justice Kennedy declared (wrongly), “History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” It is notable that in the portion in which Kennedy made this statement, he cites a case from 1961 (Poe v. Ullman), rather than the later precedent of Glucksberg. Chief Justice Roberts pointed this out in his dissent, saying that “the majority’s position requires it to effectively overrule Glucksberg.”

Second, Justice Kennedy argues that the issue is not whether there is a “right to same-sex marriage,” but rather whether gays and lesbians, as persons, may exercise the “fundamental right to marry” which belongs to everyone.

The answer on the face of it is that, even when marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman, people who identify as gays and lesbians are entirely free to marry. Marriage licenses have never inquired as to the sexual orientation of the spouses. A self-identified gay man may marry—as long as he marries a woman. A self-identified lesbian may marry—as long as she marries a man.

Sexual Attraction as the Basis for Marriage

This sounds absurd to many people—why would you marry someone to whom you are not sexually attracted?

To treat sexual attraction as the fundamental basis for the definition of civil marriage is to assume that the reason marriage is treated as public institution is to promote relationships that bring sexual pleasure to the spouses.

While this may be an important personal interest for the majority of people who marry, it is hard to argue that there is a public interest merely in promoting sexual gratification.

The federal government should not be deciding if people can marry based on their sexual interests.  After all, don’t we want to keep the government out of our bedrooms?

It is particularly odd that the Court would (implicitly) say that sexual attraction is foundational to the definition of marriage, but the potential for procreation (in which there is a significant public interest) is not. The public purpose of marriage historically has been grounded not in the encouragement or affirmation of sexual relationships, but in the need to stabilize them because of the recognition that wanton sexual expression leads to social decay: massive out-of-wedlock births and parentless children, children growingup reckless and uneducated, etc.  Seeking to avoid these and other problems, marriage for millennia has been a public institution, one animated by its implications for society as a whole.

Yet while same-sex marriage claims to imitate natural marriage in stabilizing relationships, the public purpose of such stabilization – prevention of unrestricted, chaotic, and socially disruptive procreation – becomes irrelevant given the inability of same-sex partners mutually to create children. 

I have written about the public purposes of marriage in relation to sex and procreation elsewhere.

In any case, the first premise Justice Kennedy requires in order to claim that self-identified gays and lesbians have been denied the “fundamental right to marry” is the premise that marriage is about sexual attraction.

Is Homosexuality Immutable?

A second premise is also necessary, however. To conclude that a one-man, one-woman marriage definition denies to self-identified gays and lesbians the “fundamental right to marry,” one must not only assume that sexual attraction is foundational to marriage, but must also assume that such attractions can never change—that they are “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy included the “immutability” claim because it is necessary to give his “fundamental rights” argument any coherence at all. Only if (a) sexual attraction is fundamental to marriage and (b) sexual orientation is “immutable” can it be argued that a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the same as a law saying that there is an entire class of persons (self-identified gays and lesbians) who are denied the fundamental right to marry because it is impossible for them ever to marry.

In support of this claim (that a homosexual orientation is “immutable”), Justice Kennedy cites an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief filed in the case by the American Psychological Association (APA—not to be confused with the other APA, the American Psychiatric Association).

This brief can be found online on the Supreme Court’s website here.  Yet surprisingly, a word search shows that the word “immutable” appears nowhere in the brief.

The closest to which it comes is a statement, in a topic heading, that sexual orientation “Is Highly Resistant to Change.” This is not the same as “immutable.” The word “immutable” suggests an absolute, 100 percent, without-exception type of statement. Race is an immutable characteristic (and the mockery of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claims to be black, simply demonstrates the widespread understanding of that fact). One’s biological sex is “immutable” (the “gender transition” of transgendered Americans notwithstanding). “Highly resistant to change” is a strong statement, but in an entirely different category from truly immutable characteristics such as race and sex. It is definitely not an absolute one.

However, when one reads the entire text of the section of the APA brief that Kennedy cited, the actual evidence offered hardly even supports the “highly resistant to change” characterization. For example, the section begins this way:

Sexual orientation refers to an enduring disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions to men, women, or both. It also encompasses an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them. Although sexual orientation ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, it is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of the other sex), homosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having a significant degree of sexual and romantic attraction to both sexes).

This description bears a striking resemblance to the key point I made in my 2011 pamphlet, Debating Homosexuality—namely that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but is an umbrella term for several different things. They include a person’s sexual attractions, sexual behavior, and sexual self-identification. The APA cites all three of these (“attractions,” “behaviors,” and “identity”), while even adding a fourth category (“membership in a community”).

This brings me to a “gotcha” question often asked by people in the media: “Do you think people are born gay, or do they choose to be gay?” The best answer is, “Neither,” because the question presents a false dichotomy.

No one knowledgeable about “sexual orientation” issues would claim that most people with same-sex sexual attractions “choose” to experience those attractions. However, the meaning of “sexual orientation” is not limited to sexual attractions, as even the APA acknowledges. It also “encompasses” behaviors, identity, and “membership in a community”—all of which are primarily a matter of personal choice, and therefore by definition not “immutable.”

In addition to defining “sexual orientation” in terms of multiple factors, all but one of which involve significant freedom of choice, the APA brief uses other language one usually would not expect in a description of an “immutable” characteristic. It says that sexual orientation “ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual,” and that each of the two major poles of sexual orientation, heterosexual and homosexual, can be defined in terms of “attraction primarily or exclusively” (emphasis added) to either opposite or the same sex. The use of the word “primarily,” and not just “exclusively,” is a concession that some people may identify as “homosexual” even though they have some opposite-sex attractions. Again, this is hardly as absolute as the word “immutable” would suggest.

Although I would never argue that sexual attractions are primarily “chosen,” the APA actually concedes that at least some homosexuals acknowledge that “choice” played a role in their sexual orientation. Here is what the APA wrote about that topic in the amicus brief cited by Justice Kennedy:

Most gay men and lesbians do not experience their sexual orientation as a voluntary choice. In a [national survey], only 5% of gay men and 16% of lesbians reported feeling they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice about their sexual orientation. Fully 88% of gay men and 68% of lesbians reported that they had “no choice at all.”

But if sexual orientation is inborn and “immutable,” as Justice Kennedy asserts, wouldn’t you expect 100% to say that they had “no choice at all?” The fact that, among self-identified lesbians, nearly one in three said they had at least some choice, and nearly one in six said they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice, would seem to seriously undermine the notion that homosexuals are always “born gay and can’t change.”

The APA’s brief also cites another publication the APA issued in 2009 which addressed the issue of “sexual orientation change efforts.” Here is how the brief characterizes the conclusions of the 2009 publication:

Although some groups and individuals have offered clinical interventions that purport to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual— sometimes called “conversion” therapies—these interventions have not been shown to be effective or safe. A review of the scientific literature by an APA task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to succeed and can be harmful.

One thing to know about the 2009 publication is that—like the 2015 amicus brief—nowhere in either texts is the word “immutable” used to describe sexual orientation. Note also the less than absolute language of the conclusion—saying that such efforts “are unlikely to succeed” is not at all the same as saying they “cannot” succeed; whereas, saying they “can be harmful” is not at all the same as saying they are always harmful. Here is a key quote from the 2009 Task Force Report:

Although the recent studies do not provide valid causal evidence of the efficacy of SOCE or of its harm, some recent studies document that there are people who perceive that they have been harmed through SOCE. [emphasis added]

Even the APA is conceding here that claims of “harm” from SOCE are supported by no more “valid causal evidence” than claims of its efficacy. The statement that some people “perceive” they have been harmed really amounts to a back-handed concession that the evidence of “harm” is primarily anecdotal, not scientific.

More and better research is clearly needed. However, there is actually an abundance of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that sexual orientation can be changed; the addition of the words “valid causal” represent an effort to discount that fact by raising the bar as to what is accepted as evidence.

In fact, Nicholas A. Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association, wrote in USA Today in 2013, “Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful,” adding, “…contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality.”

Ironically, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on June 26th, I was at the national conference of the Restored Hope Network—a network of Christian ministries that help individuals to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions—along with dozens of ex-gays whose existence Justice Kennedy seemed to deny. Many people who once had a homosexual sexual orientation—as measured by attractions, behaviors, and identity—have experienced transformation and are already legally married to someone of the opposite sex. Some of these, like Garry and Melissa Ingraham, are now active in helping others change. Others, like former lesbian Chirlane McCray (who is now married to Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City), simply moved beyond “the assumptions I had about the form and package my love would come in.”

Change of sexual orientation can happen in either direction. The Family Research Council’s own amicus brief to the Supreme Court was unique in pointing out the “remarkable (but heretofore unnoticed) fact that dozens of the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases that have been brought over the last twenty-four years previously had been married to a person of the opposite sex.” This is proof on its face that either: a) people with a homosexual orientation are capable of marriage to the opposite sex (if we assume that these plaintiffs were homosexual all along); or b) people’s sexual orientation can change during the life course; or both. However, if either assumption (whether a or b) is true, it demolishes the premise of Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

None of this is to suggest that changing one’s sexual orientation is easy. Most people will never try, and of those who do try, some will fail. But some also succeed.  This, and the fact that some people move from homosexual relationships to heterosexual ones—or vice versa—serve as proof that sexual orientation is not “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy’s claim that a homosexual orientation is “immutable” was his bridge from identifying the desire of some people to marry someone of the same sex to identifying a “fundamental right” to do so. The claim, however, is unsubstantiated—making the bridge a shaky one indeed.

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