83-year-old widow Edie Windsor is suing the government to strike down DOMA, and today was her day in front of the Supreme Court. She spoke on the sidewalk afterward about the heart attack she had not long after her wife Thea’s death and how the government had treated their relationship like it never existed.
What moved me most was her description of how she’d been closeted for so many years, and how she was so grateful today for the kindness in how the Justices treated her.
She was grateful for their kindness.
Take a moment to realize that for most of her life, this kindness — this civility and dignity and respect — was something she and Thea had no reason to expect. It breaks my heart with regret at what these women had to live through, and it breaks my heart with joy that this heroine has never let it overcome her. Edie Windsor has overcome, no matter what the Court decides.
This is a precious moment in the struggle for dignity. The dignity our elders were denied, the dignity they fought for and won, the dignity we feel today, and the dignity we’ll pass down to those who are now only kids, starting to wonder if they’re gay, and taking hope from the courage of this tiny 83-year-old lady.
Now I’m going to go through Olson’s attack on Prop 8. As before I simply started typing as I listened so please forgive the many typos.
33:00 Olson starts off by saying this of Prop 8:
It walls-off gays and lesbians from marriage, the most important relation in life, according to this Court, thus stigmatizing a class of Californians based upon their status and labeling their most cherished relationships as second-rate, different, unequal, and not okay.
Then the Court directs him talk about standing (i.e., the question of who has the right to defend Prop 8 in court) before he gets to the merits. I’ll skip that because it’s technical legal stuff not specific to marriage equality.
41:30 We get back to the merits. Olson says what I’ve been dying to shout at Cooper and everyone else who demands we justify our rights by showing they’ll benefit the State:
This is a measure that walls off the institution of marriage, which is not society’s right. It’s an individual right that this Court again and again and again has said the right to get married, the right to have the relationship of marriage is a personal right. It’s a part of the right of privacy, association, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And let me say that Olson is one articulate MoFo. I’ve sped up the audio by 40% as a I listen, and it makes everyone’s slow, deliberate, halting legal-speak sound like a normal conversation pace, but not Olson – Olson is so sharp, confident, and prepared that at 140% speed his clear and well-constructed sentences just fly by! Read more…
I downloaded the transcript and audio and simply started typing as I listened. I’ve done minimal formatting and proofing so please forgive the many errors. The time codes correspond roughly to the relevant spot in the downloadable audio. Cooper (the anti-same-sex marriage attorney spoke first). I’ll do our side in my next post.
11:00 Cooper begins by saying the Court has to decide whether the Constitution should put a stop to the ongoing democratic debate and answer this question for all 50 states. Cooper says such a thing can only happen if “no rational, thoughtful person of goodwill could possibly disagree with them in good faith on this agonizingly difficult issue.”
Agonizing difficult issue? When did that become the position of our opponents? I thought it was supposed to be perfectly obvious that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
This is the start of their show of reasonableness, their feigned demonstration of no ill-will against gays. Read more…
I might have a little crush on NOM’s Communications Director, Thomas Peters — or perhaps I just mean it’s been a long time since a 30-year-old man has given me such delight. And he continues to deliver.
NOM posted this excerpt of an NPR story on their blog (sorry, they didn’t link to the story itself). As you read, keep in mind they’re happy about what it says:
Surveys suggest that kids younger than 18 in same-sex families still number fewer than a quarter-million.
“It’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent,” says Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage, a leading group opposing same-sex marriage.
“The difference is that children raised by gay parents are very much in the media’s eye,” he says. “We see it on Modern Family. We see this hugely blown out of proportion. It’s why, by the way, in Gallup [polls], Americans believe that a third to a fourth of Americans are gay.”
Don’t you see Peters’ point? Let me paraphrase: We’re only denying family protections to a quarter of a million kids! That’s 250 thousand, not, like 250 gazillion! That’s barely the population of Orlando, only about 60,000 more people than live in Salt Lake City. What’s all this fuss over just a quarter of million kids? I mean, a quarter is somewhere around 25 cents, and nobody even cares about pennies!
And NOM — which is all about the kids, right? — is highlighting Peters’ quote, not apologizing for it.
Herein lies NOM’s strange and revealing contradiction. Peters, in this quote, is minimizing not just the number of kids in same-sex homes, but the number of gays as well, presumably to give the impression that this population of children is unlikely to grow. Factor in NOM’s other rhetoric, and you’re left with this:
- We need to ban same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and father, and every child is important.
- We can refute the need for same-sex marriage because only a quarter of a million kids are raised in such households, and they can be dismissed as “a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent.”
It seems the importance of children to NOM depends entirely on their argument of the moment.
Along these lines I’d like to detour for a moment into another NOM post called, “Examples of Excellent Testimony Against SSM in Minnesota” (their title, not mine). They approvingly quote this bit from Doug Mainwaring, their favorite gay who opposes gay marriage:
Doug (gay man): “marriage isn’t about love, commitment and responsibility–it’s about kids. Ignore the media push and adult demands for same-sex marriage.”
That is one of their “examples of excellent testimony.” It leaves me thinking NOM has no idea why married parents are such a good thing for kids. Of course, it’s perfectly in line with Thomas Peters’ recent tweet about marriage: “Orientation doesnt matter, sexual difference does!”
Yeah. Marriage is all about the kids. But for NOM, apparently, a loveless, uncommitted, irresponsible opposite-sex couple is better for those kids than any same-sex couple you can find, because sexual difference matters so much more than those trivial concerns.
I’ll be keeping an eye on Thomas Peters. It’s fun. My only worry is that NOM could realize something might be wrong if your opponents are eager to publicize everything your Communications Director has to say.
As long as I’m all a-twitter, I might as well share this new gem from NOM’s Communications Director (whose posts I can read but am blocked from responding to):
I don’t know how to argue with that. Literally. I don’t know how to argue with that.
Now if we could just get him in front of the Supreme Court.
The New York Times published a profile of NOM president Brian Brown today. The author interviewed quite a few gay bloggers about him, but little of that information appeared in the piece. It’s all very nice that she told her readers we think Brown is dishonest, but why should they believe us? She’d have done her readers (and her story) a greater service if she’d pointed out some of his lies so they could sort reality from hearsay.
So, for the sake of a more complete account, here’s an email I sent her shortly after our interview. It’s a nice little gallery of horrors.
It was a pleasure talking to you today. If your focus is Prop 8, it turns out I do have something for you. NOM filed an amicus brief when Prop 8 went to appeal, and I take it apart here:
Also, here are the other links I mentioned:
NOM’s history of untruth
NOM’s history of violent and vilifying rhetoric
Speakers at NOM’s March for Marriage who have invoked Satan when it comes to gays
And just in general, this is a great resource for researching inflammatory rhetoric:
A couple of the more inflammatory NOM paid staffers:
On the Regnerus study:
Problems with the study:
NOM’s misrepresentation of the study:
Please feel free to call if you need anything else.
I’m trying to come up with some sort of pun using the term “facts evasion.” Because, you know, it sounds a bit like “tax evasion,” right? Right? No?
After posting my conversation with NOM’s Communications Director Thomas Peters yesterday, I alerted him to its existence:
In response, he blocked me.
That’s probably the sensible move for him, on a number of levels. But it does nothing to change my judgment that Thomas’ primary strategy for dealing with inconvenient reality is simply to ignore it. Once again, it seems NOM is guilty of facts evasion.
No? Still no? Really?
I might need some help with that one.
The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.
And now I know. [Spoiler alert: He doesn't say, "Oh, we're awful, and I'll fix it right away!']
It began this morning when reader/warrior StraightGrandmother directed me to Maggie Gallagher in the National Review:
There are at least four reviews or studies in peer-reviewed literature that contest the claim that children do equally well with same-sex parents. (Regnerus, Marks, Sirota, Allen). None of which are mentioned by the American Academy of Pediatricians in their endorsement of gay marriage. They cannot cite a single scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal showing children with gay parents are better off if their parents are considered legally married. None of this matters. How serious are we about children’s well-being in this country?
Then I found this new press release on NOM’s website:
One recent large-scale random sample study that has been produced by University of Texas researchers found that those raised in a same-sex household fared worse than those raised in intact heterosexual families on two-thirds of outcomes measured. Nowhere in the AAP statement do they address the confounding scientific evidence by Regnerus, Marks, Sirota and Allen — all published in peer-reviewed journals. The AAP simply ignores them.
I know a bit about Regnerus and Sirota. Their studies tell us nothing about same-sex parenting. I called the phone number on the press release and spoke to a very nice press rep. She told me I should talk to Thomas Peters and gave me the number to his office. And I was all, Goody!
Well, Thomas was reluctant from the start: I’m not a journalist, he doesn’t do impromptu interviews, and I should direct my questions to their press reps. I said a press rep had directed me to him. He hesitantly agreed to a conversation and asked whether I were recording it (no) and whether I were okay with him recording it (of course!).
I referred him to the press release quote above and asked if he were aware that the Sirota study did not look at same-sex parents. He slowly said no (I believe him) and asked what it did look at. I told him Sirota compared kids raised by straight dads with those raised by gay dads, but in both cases the dads were married to the mothers, so the study was really about opposite-sex parenting.
He told me he didn’t write the press release.
When I told him Regnerus hadn’t specified any results for kids raised by same-sex parents, he quickly agreed (that’s why I believed him about Sirota) and accurately characterized the study as looking at kids with a parent who’d had a same-sex relationship. I told him that NOM’s Rhode Island branch wasn’t describing it that way — they were falsely attributing these results to kids raised by lesbian couples.
At this point NOM’s Communications Officer told me if I had a problem with what NOM Rhode Island was saying I should talk to NOM Rhode Island.
(This was actually a screw-up on my part: I didn’t need to bring up NOM-RI. This falsehood was promulgated in the press release above!)
I pressed Thomas on the content of these studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s broader point that the AAP had simply ignored other research when they issued their politically-motivated endorsement. That sent me back into the details of studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s other broader point that there isn’t a lot of good research on the topic at all and I wondered whether that meant he was saying these studies supposedly against same-sex marriage weren’t good, either, and he said this was turning into more of a lecture than an interview, on which point he was probably correct, and he firmly and emphatically but not impolitely ended the call.
So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.
He won’t dispute the facts. He won’t admit NOM has the facts wrong. He won’t take responsibility for how the facts are communicated. Instead he’ll evade. He’ll change the subject. He’ll strategically retreat to discussing NOM’s broader points in order to avoid getting mired in the tiny points. Like facts.
Now, remember, I didn’t record the call, so I’m recounting this from memory. And I’m editorializing (just a bit?). But that, of course, is why Thomas records this sort of call. And if Thomas would like to release the entire, unedited audio of the conversation, I hereby grant him permission.
Somebody please let me know if he does.
I rarely get so enraged that it’s hard for me to write. Certainly I can be emphatic, sarcastic, even outraged, but that usually motivates me at the keyboard. Only rarely do I get so furious that I want skip writing altogether and just go out to scream on the streets.
But that’s happening today.
An 11-year-old girl, Gracie Evans, is getting a lot of press from the antigay establishment. As NOM describes it:
Here is an 11-year-old(!), Gracie Evans, testifying before the Minnesota state legislature against same sex marriage. She had a question for the legislators: “I want to ask you this question: which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?” [emphasis added].
She asks the question twice and looks around the room in vain for an answer. Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths of babes!
The anti-gay establishment is using Gracie to push the notion that same-sex marriage is wrong because children need a mother and a father. And they take the room’s silence as evidence that no reply to this could ever be made.
At first when I read this I wasn’t angry at all. I just thought this was ridiculous rhetorical stunt that some adults had put together. I mean, when our eloquent straight ally Zach Wahls describes the two devoted moms who brought him up, he could just as easily ask, “Which of these two parents did I not need?” and any decent person would have no good answer for him.
Then I thought of another reply, so clear, so obvious, a reply as simple as:
But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.
And with that, I thought my argument was done. But the sentence popped into my head again, this time with a different inflection:
But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.
And that’s when the rage started to build.
NOM is making full use of this girl’s testimony. They’ve created a graphic out of it and are building a PR push around it — NOM, an organization devoted to destroying our families. And that — that – is what makes me want to stand in the streets in front of NOM’s offices at shout “How DARE you??”
The only way I can pull it together is to imagine what I would say to the person I’m not mad at, little Gracie Evans, and how I would explain the situation to her. Here’s my best attempt.
Congratulations on speaking in front of the Minneosta state legislature. That must have been scary. Even grown-ups get nervous doing it. You must be a bright and special girl, so I think you deserve to know why no one had a answer when you asked, “Which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?”
See, Gracie, those of us who believe in same-sex marriage also think if you’re lucky enough to have two parents who love you, then you have every right to say you need them both. In fact, I wish every child were lucky enough to grow up in a safe, stable home with loving parents. And Gracie, that’s why I support same-sex marriage.
Let me tell you about two little boys who weren’t as lucky as you, at least not at first.
John was 4 years old, and his little brother James was only 4 months old. Their parents did not take good care of them, so they were sent to live with two men who had a nice home. John and James showed up in dirty clothes, and John had worms living in his scalp. Someone had given him medicine, but there had been no one to make sure he used it, so the worms were just getting worse and worse. Even the baby was sick, just a little 4-month-old boy with an earache.
Gracie, I know this sounds awful, but I also know you’re brave, so let me keep explaining.
Even though John was just 4, the only thing that mattered to him was taking care of his baby brother. There had been no one else to do it, and it had been very hard. Although John got lots of food in his new home, he would sneak extra and hide it in his room, because having enough food to eat was such a strange and unusual thing for him. Before he lived in that home, he had never seen a book, didn’t know how to count, and couldn’t even say what the different colors were.
But Gracie, things got better after they moved in. A few years later, the boys were going to school, saying grace over dinner, doing homework at night, going to church, and they even had pets! A dog, a rabbit, and a kitten.
Soon these two men, whom John and James called “daddy” and “papi,” wanted to give them a safe place to live forever. But believe it or not, some people didn’t want this to happen, just because the parents would be two men. But Gracie, think about the boys’ lives before they found this home, and how things got better after they moved in and became a family. Now think about little John asking you, “Which parent do I not need? My papi or my daddy?”
I bet you wouldn’t have an answer for them, either.
John and James were lucky. They did get to stay with their new parents in a safe home. But in a way, Gracie, you’re even luckier, because your parents were allowed to get married. Our country has a lot of laws that help married parents keep their family strong and protect their children.
But John and James’ parents aren’t allowed to get married, so they don’t have that help. They have to do it on their own, and they will, because they love their new sons. But do you think that’s fair? Now that John and James have been lucky enough to find a safe home, don’t you think their family deserves the same help and protection as yours? Haven’t their lives been hard enough?
Thanks for listening, Gracie, and I hope you to take a little time to think more about John and James.