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The Science of How Gay Marriage Will Destroy America

| Mon Apr. 27, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case that could legalize same-sex marriage in every state by the end of the court's term in June. To stop that from happening, supporters of the state-level bans that could be in jeopardy have filed 66 friend-of-the-court briefs, offering a host of social, political, and scientific reasons the court should uphold existing state bans.

These briefs fall into a few categories. The more temperate ones argue that marriage should be decided at the state level—an attempt to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy without disparaging same-sex unions. Others are more dramatic in tone, such as a brief from the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative group in Texas, that predicts legalizing same-sex marriage would be "analogous overreaching" to "this Court's misguided attempt to impose its views on the entire country in Dred Scott," the 1857 decision often cited as one of the causes of the Civil War.

Opponents have also tried to demonstrate more specific social harms from gay marriage in their briefs. As SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston noted recently, they don't want to be caught flat-footed this time around, as they were during the Proposition 8 case over California's same-sex marriage ban. Asked how same-sex marriages would harm opposite-sex marriages during 2009 pretrial hearing in that case, conservative lawyer Chuck Cooper admitted, "Your Honor, my answer is: I don't know."

Referring to the California case, attorney Gene Schaerr, who helped coordinate some of the briefs in support of the gay-marriage bans, told the National Law Journal recently that he "looked back at the amicus briefs" filed in that case. "[O]ur side had not made as powerful a social science case for the traditional definition of marriage as could be made," said Schaerr, formerly of Winston & Strawn, which defended Utah's gay marriage ban last year.

This time around, Schaerr and his allies want to avoid that mistake. Here are a few of the scientific reasons submitted to the Supreme Court from the opponents of same-sex marriage:

Same-sex marriage will cause an additional 900,000 abortions: As Schaerr, the chief author of this amicus brief, admits, "abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated." But, he has found a connection. Schaerr, writing on behalf of "100 scholars of marriage," argues that states with same-sex marriage have seen a decline in opposite-sex marriage by "[at] least five percent." Schaerr extrapolates this 5 percent figure, concluding that over the next 30-year "fertility cycle," nearly 1.3 million women will forego marriage. Arguing that unmarried women are more likely to get abortions, Schaerr calculates an additional 900,000 abortions. But, he acknowledged to the Washington Post last week, "it is still too new to do a rigorous causation analysis using statistical methods."

The "homosexual experience" leads to "early death": This is the argument put forward by Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions, an advocacy group that supports the "national policy aims" of the former Arkansas governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate, and the Family Research Institute, the "anti-gay movement's main source for…completely discredited junk science" on LGBT people, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Their brief argues that "consistent evidence indicates that individuals who engage in homosexuality experience significantly higher mortality rates than those who do not."

Children of same-sex marriages are disadvantaged: The Ruth Institute, a San Diego-based group that appears to be run by one woman, Jennifer Roback Morse, and seeks to address "the lies of the Sexual Revolution," argues that the "'consensus' that 'the kids are ok' has been manufactured by systematically excluding evidence" that they are not okay. The group is particularly worried about children not having a biological connection to both parents and predicts "social chaos, by creating a world in which families are determined by policy, rather than biology."

Same-sex marriage will hurt underprivileged women and children: A group that describes itself as "scholars of the effects that marriage law has on the welfare of women, children, and underprivileged populations," and including gay marriage foe Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, claim that marriage is particularly helpful to the stability and economic status of poor Americans. But redefining marriage, they argue, would create a new era "where men and women are viewed as interchangeable, nonessential facets of family life; and where the law has cemented marriage as a mere governmental capstone of a loving relationship." Without marriage's "historical" focus on procreation and stability, single mothers will end up raising children on their own, hurting their economic outlook.

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Tales From City of Hope #8: The Day +3 Cake

| Sun Apr. 26, 2015 11:45 PM EDT

As promised, the Day +3 cake arrived today, produced with a mother's love along with an assist from Duncan Hines. That's the childhood formula, so that's what I got. I will spend the next few days in a chocolate coma.

Marian visited today too, which was a good thing. My fatigue is getting ever worse, and when I got back from my daily hydration I pretty much crashed for two hours. So the visit was mostly between Marian and my mother. I woke up just in time to say goodbye. Before I crashed, however, I did get this badly-composed selfie of the three of us, all sporting our now-stylish surgical masks. Enjoy.

Quote of the Day: George Bush Still in Foreign Policy Denial

| Sun Apr. 26, 2015 9:57 PM EDT

From Bloomberg's Josh Rogin, after reading a transcript of George W. Bush's remarks on the Middle East to a closed-door meeting with Jewish donors this weekend:

For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.

Yep, that sounds like the George Bush we all came to know and love. My favorite quote: "In order to be an effective president ... when you say something you have to mean it," he said. "You gotta kill em."

The Law, In Its Finnish Majesty....

| Sun Apr. 26, 2015 1:04 PM EDT

In Finland, a speeding ticket costs you more if you're rich than if you're poor. Fair enough, perhaps. "The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too," says the New York Times.

In any case, I already knew this. What I didn't know was the formula:

The fines are calculated based on half an offender’s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.

Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.

Mr. Kuisla, a betting man who parlayed his winnings into a real estate empire, was clocked speeding near the Seinajoki airport. Given the speed he was going, Mr. Kuisla was assessed eight days. His fine was then calculated from his 2013 income, 6,559,742 euros, or more than $7 million at current exchange rates.

Sadly for Reima Kuisla, he was clocked at 103 kph, which set him back a whopping 54,024 euros. However, if he'd been traveling just 3 kph slower, his fine would have been only 100 euros. No matter what you think of the social justice of this system, that does seem like a bit of a steep spike, doesn't it?

Here in America, though, perhaps we have different priorities. What minor but annoying infractions would you like to apply this system to here in the good 'ol USA?

Why CNN Wouldn't Cut Away From White House Shindig To Cover Huge Freddie Gray Protest

| Sun Apr. 26, 2015 11:06 AM EDT

As politicians, celebrities, and journalists gathered for the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner last night in D.C., just miles away in Baltimore, Maryland, a big crowd marched to protest the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. By Saturday evening, 12 people were reported arrested as some in the largely peaceful crowd threw rocks and smashed windows, and the jumbotron at the Baltimore Orioles game warned fans to stay inside.

But you wouldn't have known any of that from CNN, which chose to stick with live coverage of every second of the White House dinner. "The most powerful man in the world is going to tell some jokes," contributor Errol Louis explained, with scenes of the gala in the background. If you wanted to know what was going on with the rallies, you could "find a live feed" somewhere, he said—just not, evidently, on America's 24-hour news network.

"We sort of make our best choices, and we'll catch up," Louis said. "They'll find out all of what happened in the streets of Baltimore by this time tomorrow." 

This Was Pretty Good/Sad/Awful

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 11:05 PM EDT

I haven't liked Cecily Strong's speech tonight very much but this was pretty good/sad/awful.

 

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Here is Obama's White House Correspondents' Dinner Speech

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 10:55 PM EDT

Obummer's speech starts at 3:08.

What did you think?

One Tweet Shows How Far We As Americans Still Have To Go

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 8:33 PM EDT

Tonight is the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's a really dumb event where journalists play grab ass with the subjects they cover. I think it's a venial sin at worse, because every industry has its stupid, embarrassing events, but even I, an apologist for it, found myself nodding along when I read this tweet.

He's talking about the WHCD at the Washington Hilton in DC and the protests against the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. But in all seriousness, this tweet is evergreen. Terribly, awfully, intensely depressingly evergreen. This is America in 2015.

I'm going to watch the WHCD if I can, write some jokes, embed it in a blog post, etc...But the truth is: It doesn't matter. What matters is what's going on down the road. What matters is what's going on down so many roads.

 

Tales From City of Hope #7: Weekend Update

| Sat Apr. 25, 2015 12:54 PM EDT

Since my actual stem cell transplant happened on Thursday, that counts as Day Zero. Today is Day +2. It turns out that part of the prep for the transplant was an IV injection of both Benadryl and Ativan, so I was pretty conked out the entire day. Friday was about the same. Strong stuff, but today I seem to be more alert. For now, anyway.

My white cell count continues to drop, which is paradoxically a good thing. Basically, my immune system will drop nearly to zero, probably around Monday or Tuesday, and then begin rebounding. Assuming nothing goes wrong, the main effect will be lots of fatigue and poor appetite. So let's hope nothing goes wrong, shall we?

In the meantime, while I wait for a guest post from President Obama, my mother has promised to deliver me a traditional chocolate birthday cake of my childhood on Sunday. We shall christen it the Day +3 cake since we're not even within shouting distance of my birthday at the moment.

Otherwise, today is busy! Marian is here, doing some laundry while I'm being hydrated for four hours. Later my sister is coming, and our friend Eileen a little after that. Should be quite the party.

This Stat Will Make Deforestation Hit Home

| Fri Apr. 24, 2015 4:33 PM EDT
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Okay, so deforestation is sad, and it's Arbor Day so we should be extra sad about it. But there are so many things to be sad about, right? Well maybe this stat, from a study that came out last month, will make the loss of the world's forests sink in for you:

More than 70 percent of the worlds's forests are within 1 kilometer of a forest edge. Thus, most forests are well within the range where human activities, altered microclimate and nonforest species may influence and degrade forest ecosystems.

That's right, we've arrived at the point where the majority of the forest in the world is just a short walk from the stuff humans have built. If you need that in graph form, here you go:

Science Advances

According to the study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, the largest remaining contiguous forests are in the Amazon and the Congo River Basin. The study also synthesized past forest fragmentation research and found that breaking up habitats to this degree has reduced biodiversity by as much as 75 percent in some areas.

Happy Arbor Day…