The Maryland Court of Appeals is hearing arguments today in the case of Conaway v. Deane, a suit claiming a right to gay marriage. Jim Burroway emailed me with a link to his analysis of a brief filed by the Family Research Council. Jim does a terrific job of analyzing how the FRC cherry picks and distorts social science research on gay relationships. He points out their shameless misuse of various studies. I’ll post some examples below the fold:
The FRC then, in my own favorite fit of misrepresentation, turns to Maria Xiridou’s study5 (the famous “Dutch Study”) to claim that “A recent study of male same-sex relationships in the Netherlands found that men with steady partners have on average eight casual sex partners a year.” Later in the brief, the FRC says, “The recent Dutch study found that the average ‘steady relationship’ – which was not even monogamous – lasted 1.5 years.”
These statements are downright fraudulent. As I demonstrated in What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples, this study was not about same-sex relationships. It was about the sexual practices of nonmonogamous men with AIDS. Everyone over the age of thirty was excluded from the study, everyone who was HIV-negative was excluded (unless he was a partner of someone HIV-positive), and, most importantly, all monogamous couples were excluded!
When you exclude monogamous couples from a study, it should come as no surprise that the non-monogamous couples you are studying are, well, not monogamous. And when you exclude everyone over the age of thirty from a study, you will not find many long-lasting relationships – it’s nearly impossible to celebrate a silver anniversary while in your twenties. And when “steady relationship” is undefined such that it can include someone who has been “going steady” for a few weeks, it’s hardly an apples-to-apples comparison to the married heterosexual couples the FRC described in the beginning.
That’s pretty bad. The FRC brief cites 5 studies. None use representative samples. Only one is recent and that one excludes all of the very people the FRC is trying to claim don’t exist. As Burroway notes, this isn’t just dishonest, it’s fraud and borderline perjury. But Burroway also points out that even if the studies showed what they claim, they have no relevance to the legal issue:
But behind all of this rhetoric about group statistics and averages is a notion that runs completely contrary to our understanding of individual standing under the law. No man or woman is judged under the law according to the behaviors of group statistics. No married man is judged guilty of adultery by the actions of other men. No woman is judged to be an unfit mother by the actions of other mothers.
The idea that any given couple should be denied the right to marry because others may behave according to norms that we do not find acceptable is an illegitimate standard. Otherwise, there would be a number of racial, ethnic and economically disadvantaged groups who would find their rights imperiled. The FRC’s brief is un-American in that regard. And as for the fraudulent claims that they made to the court, the FRC’s brief represents an example of false witness. That is not only un-American; it is un-Christian.