Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.

Walking and Thinking about Abortion and Marriage

At this past weekend's West Coast Walk for Life, I got to think about the connection between the abortion issue and the marraige issue.  I have long thought that the life issues and the marriage issues are related, deeply connected at the philosophical level.  The handful of protestors made the connection with their little chant: "Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay: Right-wing Bigots, Go Away."  (They do have a way with words, don't they?  Deep thinkers, all.)  So, I am not going out on a limb when I say that for the most part, the same groups of people line up on both sides of the issue. Most everyone on their side would favor abortion and redefining marriage. Most everyone on our side would be pro-life and favor man-woman marriage.  So what are some of the connections between the life issues and the marriage issues?  The Big Picture: each side has a vision of marriage, child-bearing, sex and love.  Their positions on the life and marriage issues flow from that larger vision.  The Political Picture: each side has a vision of the relationship of the individual, the state, and the family. The Strategic Picture: each side has their own view of what constitutes an appropriate strategy for acheiving change. I'm still ruminating over these things, but expect to post more on them. stay tuned...

"Bump:" resolving unplanned pregnancies

"Bump" is a new internet reality show that follows three women through their decision-making around unplanned pregnancies.  This series is being produced by students at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego.  Some of these students have been involved in Ruth INstitute activities. Check it out!

A (slightly) nerdy explanation for the economic downturn

Fear the Boom and Bust: A Hayek v Keynes rap anthem My friends know I'm an economics nerd, so they'll forgive me for going (slightly) off-topic. Full disclosure: one of the producers of this vid is Russ Roberts, a friend of mine, going back to my post-doc days at the University of Chicago!

Which is the Advocate and Which is the Journalist?

Read these two accounts of the same day in the courtroom of the Prop 8 trial.  See if you can tell which one is on record as the advocate for one side, and which one is an "independent" professional journalistic account. Is this the objective account?
Professor Kenneth Miller, a Harvard lawyer and political science professor at Claremont McKenna College was called as a witness by the legal team, which demonstrated, through his testimony, that the “No on 8” campaign and its political allies have much political power, both in California and nationally. Moreover, Dr. Miller testified in favor of the initiative process in California and the ability of the California citizens to enact laws that they choose to enact.However, Dr. Miller did not always hold the opinions that he currently holds. Early in his career as a political scientist, Dr. Miller wrote articles that critiqued the initiative process and questioned its place in American democracy. However, after years of research studying hundreds of initiatives across the country, Dr. Miller came to realize that the initiative process was an effective and necessary tool in the larger democratic process. His research and the evidence of the initiative process nationwide led him to a different conclusion, and he felt so strongly about that conclusion that he wrote a book about it. Dr. Miller’s book Direct Democracy and the Courts is a known and authoritative source on the initiative and referendum process in America. Yet, in the minds of the plaintiffs, Dr. Miller’s transformed opinion on initiatives apparently isn’t worthy of respect or their tolerance. In large part, the cross-examination of Dr. Miller amounted to an indictment of his current views on initiatives and an attempt to get him to transform his opinions (on the witness stand) to what he used to believe. Thus, for the plaintiffs, it’s perfectly permissible for Mayor Sanders’ beliefs about same-sex “marriage” to evolve, but when it comes to Dr. Miller’s professional studies and writings about the initiative process, any change that he makes which doesn’t fit the goals of those who want to redefine marriage is somehow improper.... In the end, Dr. Miller held his own quite well, and the plaintiffs were unable to undercut Dr. Miller’s powerful testimony that the advocates for marriage redefinition in the United States do not lack political power, but rather have many powerful political allies. And because Dr. Miller wouldn’t abandon his current convictions about the initiative process in America, the plaintiffs eventually ended their questioning of him.
Or is this the objective account?
David H. Thompson promptly took over and presented Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna as the first witness for the defense. David Boies, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, challenged Dr. Miller’s qualifications as an expert on gay and lesbian politics, but Judge Walker allowed Mr. Thompson to proceed. The strategy of the defense was to show, with extensive detail, the political and financial backing that gays and lesbians in California have enjoyed in recent years. This could undermine the plaintiffs’ argument that Proposition 8 passed because gay men and lesbians are a politically oppressed group suffering from continuing discrimination. “Forty-three million dollars were raised and spent by the opponents, which exceeded very large contributions by the Yes on 8 campaign,” Dr. Miller said. “There is no social issue that has ever involved this kind of money.” He added: “This is exceptional.” Dr. Miller also testified that gays and lesbians could count on a deep and varied contingent of political allies. He named the state and national Democratic parties, organized labor, newspapers, celebrities and some church groups as politically powerful institutions and individuals that favor same-sex marriage. When Mr. Thompson asked Dr. Miller who is the most critical gatekeeper in political access in California politics, Dr. Miller pointed to Susan Kennedy, the chief of staff to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Ms. Kennedy herself is an openly lesbian person and she is, I would guess, a strong advocate of LGBT rights and she’s made that clear in public as well,” Dr. Miller said. Dr. Miller, with Mr. Thompson’s guidance, then began listing a long roll of politically connected and influential individuals in the state who have publicly voiced support for gay men and lesbians. These included Attorney General Jerry Brown, the secretary of state, Debra Bower, Treasurer William Lockyer, the controller John Chiang and the superintendent of public instruction, Jack O’Connell. Also prominent among supporters of issues important to gay men and lesbians are the mayors of three major cities, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and Jerry Sanders, the mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego respectively. Dr. Miller also testified that the teachers union in California has donated $1.3 million to Equality California, the group seeking to strike down Proposition 8. The Service Employees International Union has given $500,000. Mr. Thompson noted that major corporations have also been listed as sponsors on Equality California’s website, from the Silicon Valley search-engine giant Google to AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo, Kaiser Permanente, PG&E, Genentech and Southern California Edison.... After Mr. Thompson finished questioning Dr. Miller, the rest of Monday afternoon was taken up by Mr. Boies’s cross examination of Dr. Miller, which yielded some uncomfortable moments for the professor of government from Claremont McKenna College.The defense, fending off Mr. Boies’s attempts to disqualify Dr. Miller earlier in the day, had characterized Dr. Miller as a scholar well versed across the broad politics of California initiatives. Upon the start of his cross examination, however, Mr. Boies persistently tried to uncover Dr. Miller’s unfamiliarity in the area of gay and lesbian political and legal history as he cast doubt on the professor’s qualifications as an expert witness for this trial. Mr. Boies pointed out that during his deposition, Dr. Miller said he did not know how many states had laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Then, after Mr. Boies pressed Dr. Miller to answer whether a rebuttal report he filed with the court contained materials he had found himself or with the aid of defense counsel, Dr. Miller acknowledged that he did receive materials from lawyers. Mr. Boies then asked Dr. Miller to circle all the indexed materials that Dr. Miller received from defense lawyers, and for the next 15 minutes, Dr. Miller, quietly seated in the witness stand, did so. Mr. Boies appeared to land two blows in quick succession when Dr. Miller testified that both the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policies constituted “official discrimination.” The questioning grew increasingly strained as Mr. Boies continued to ask Dr. Miller to answer a range of difficult questions, ranging from political history to gay and lesbian politics and scholarship. Dr. Miller acknowledged that he was not familiar with the work of Professor George Chauncey of Yale, who testified during the trial’s first week, or a list of other scholars that Mr. Boies said were known experts in the field of L.G.B.T. studies. “What academic books and articles are you familiar with regarding the discrimination against minority groups?” Dr. Miller demurred. “You mean you can’t think of any titles?” Mr. Boies asked. “No, I can’t,” Dr. Miller responded. Mr. Boies, minutes later, asked, “Nationally, do you believe the African-American minority or the gay and lesbian minority has the greater political power?” Dr. Miller responded, “I’d have to say I don’t know.” At one point, midway through an intensifying series of questions from Mr. Boies, Mr. Thompson, the defense lawyer, stood up to object that the questions had strayed beyond the scope of Dr. Miller’s expertise. To the loudest laughter of the afternoon and a chuckle from Judge Walker, Mr. Boies responded wryly, “I think there is some merit to that objection.”
The first account was reported by the Alliance Defense Fund, attorneys for the defendent. One would natually expect them to put their case and their witness in the best possible light. The second account was from the New York Times.  Whom do they represent, I wonder?

From Bad to Worse, according to Dale Carpenter

Dale Carpenter is a very sensible gay man, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, and an advocate of same sex marriage.  He offers this analysis of the likely outcome of the Prop 8 trial.  For my readers who are not regular court watchers, or trained in the law: Prof Carpenter's analysis highlights the high stakes of this case.  Much more that just Prop 8 is at stake in this case.  If the courts discover that dual gender marriage violates the US Constitution, we will have same sex marriage everywhere in America.
As a legal strategy, the Prop 8 litigation was always a high-stakes bet. The bet was that there were either five votes on the Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8 or that, by the time the case works its way up, there would be five votes to do so. ... A successful outcome for David Boies and Ted Olson means a successful outcome in the Supreme Court -- not merely a win in Judge Walker's trial court or even a win in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Like many others, I was dubious from the beginning about this bet. I don't see how you get to a 5-4 majority on the current Court to strike down Prop 8. The hope has been that Justice Kennedy would join the Court's liberal wing in such a decision. I'm not completely convinced that even this liberal wing -- Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor -- will take on the marriage laws of 45 states....  If nothing else, the recent decision he joined to prohibit the broadcast of the Prop 8 trial -- a decision that diminished whatever political salience it might have had -- suggests that Kennedy believes the beleaguered group needing the extraordinary protection of courts is the supporters of Prop 8. Now two factors have made a favorable outcome in the Supreme Court even less likely than when the litigation was filed last year. The first is the election of Scott Brown to the Senate from Massachusetts. This denies the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. The second is the likely retirement this summer of the most stalwart of the Court's liberals, Justice Stevens. The possibility of a filibuster of the president's nominee to replace Stevens will likely have a moderating effect on Obama's choice, which means the replacement will be somewhat less likely to vote to strike down Prop 8. With Republican gains in the Senate this fall, any hopes for strongly liberal nominees to replace conservatives before the 2012 election seem even more vain. All of this is speculation. Maybe Kennedy is on board. Maybe Justice Stevens won't retire. Maybe his replacement, or a replacement for a conservative in the next couple of years, will surprise us. Earl Warren the nominee wasn't Earl Warren the Chief Justice. Maybe the Republicans won't mind letting one strong liberal be replaced by another and will let it go just as the fall election approaches. Maybe lions will lie down with lambs. But as of now, the Prop 8 litigation bet just went from bad to worse.

Prop 8 Trial Report from Alliance Defense Fund

Here is the report from ADF today.
As we moved into the third week of the trial, there was a sense that the winds were about to shift and, shortly before noon on the 10th day, the winds did change. After two weeks of emotional appeals, persecution of religious beliefs, and experts who were unraveled by the cross-examinations of the legal team, the plaintiffs moved to what I would call a “document dump.” Without calling a single witness, the plaintiffs sought to move into evidence several documents which they believed helped their case. These included printouts from Web sites that were not run by the campaign, as well as DVDs that were also not part of the official campaign. The persecution of religious beliefs continued as the plaintiffs and their gallery of supporters laughed and snickered at videos of citizens, pastors, and others who were concerned about the impact of same-sex “marriage” on their community. Clearly, those who are demanding tolerance have no tolerance for the values and beliefs of those across this country who have voted to uphold marriage in 31 of 31 states. Rather, it has become clear that the plaintiffs’ desire is to force all Americans to forfeit the core of their democratic rights by allowing a small group of wealthy activists to impose their will on not only a state, but the entire nation. Following their “document dump,” the plaintiffs finally rested their case. Legally, this was a significant moment since they were now telling the court that they had submitted all of the evidence that they planned to submit to attempt to order the redefinition of marriage by judicial fiat. As I reflected on the case that the plaintiffs presented, I wondered about the potential impact of what was occurring. Was it really possible that a couple of weeks of emotionally-based testimony could bring additional years of chaos and confusion in the legal battles to preserve marriage? We know that this case could impact marriage laws in up to 45 other states—including the 30 states where voters overwhelmingly adopted state constitutional amendments—along with eliminating the right of Californians to reaffirm marriage in their state constitution. Could this all really hinge on two weeks of a legal case that was, let’s say, less than impressive? In defending Proposition 8, the legal team isn’t charged with the legal duty to prove anything. Rather, the legal burden to prove the need to redefine marriage belongs exclusively to the plaintiffs; however, to this point in the trial, the legal team has proven much. In the first two weeks of trial, the plaintiffs elicited about 28 hours of legal testimony, while the legal team solicited about 27 hours of legal testimony, and we hadn’t yet called a single witness. After the plaintiffs rested their case, the legal team called its first witness, Professor Kenneth Miller, a Harvard lawyer and political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. Dr. Miller thoroughly debunked the idea that those who seek to redefine marriage in this country possess no political power. From the speeches and policies of President Obama, all the way to the support of the California Legislature and public officials, Dr. Miller demonstrated the excessively thorough amount of political power that the “No on 8” campaign—and their allies across the country—do have regarding their agenda. At the end of day 10, the cross-examination of Dr. Miller was proceeding, and that examination will continue into day 11, Tuesday. Stay tuned, as Tuesday expects to see another important witness for the legal team: marriage expert David Blankenhorn.

Prop 8 Trial Report from Catholics for the Common Good

Today's report from Catholics for the Common Good:
On Thursday, January 21, Day 8, religious bashing ran rampant with Catholics and Southern Baptists as targets. According the Sanford political science professor Gary Segura, religion is to blame for the powerlessness of gays and lesbians as demonstrated by their inability to achieve their political objectives implying the need for special protection by the courts. However, on brilliant cross examination by David Thompson, Segura had to acknowledge that Prop 8 opponents had the backing of the President, both California U. S. Senators, the Speaker of the U.S. House, the Democratic Party, numerous Hollywood stars, major corporations, many churches, the editorial board of every newspaper in the state, and financial supporters that contributed more money against Prop 8 and those who contributed for it. Yes, they are so politically weak that the Attorney General and the Governor, who are obliged to uphold the constitution of the state, violated their oaths of office by not being willing to defend the definition of marriage placed there by 7 million voters. I have received so many emails from people who had experience harassment during and after the campaign and had expressed hopes that there would be an opportunity to raise these bullying tactics by Prop 8 opponents during the trial. The time came during the cross examination when our defense counsel got Segura to agree that such tactics undermine the power and effectiveness of the gay rights movement. After getting Segura to agree to a definition of a hate crime, defense counsel played a video with an example of an offense meeting that critieria (while many in the audience snickered) with a female supporter of Prop 8 who was assaulted in San Francisco's Castro District. The judge seemed impatient at that point. In the afternoon, the plaintiffs called Dr. Bill Tam, a concerned Chinese-American father and leader who is an Evangelical Christian. They tried their best to make him out to be a religious bigot. He was a supporter who lent his name to the initiative as a sponsor, but was not involved in the development of any of the campaign strategy and therefore his testimony was not relevant to the plaintiff's case. It was nothing but a bullying attack on his religious beliefs. Alliance Defense Counsel attorney Austin Nimocks summed it up as, “Dr. Tam had his religious and political views placed under a judicial microscope to determine whether they were 'correct' in the eyes of the law.” The implications are whether it is legal to consider your faith when you vote or support a public policy position? This is frightening! Friday, January 22, Day 9, was fascinating. The focus was on the question of whether homosexuality is immutable or unchangeable like race or sex. The preparation by our defense attorneys was again very impressive and not a match for the plaintiffs' “expert” witness Gregory M. Herek, a psychology professor from the University of California at Davis. Using numerous studies that Herek, the expert, was not familiar with, and segments from depositions and testimony from other plaintiffs' witnesses, it became evident that there was not even a clear definition of what homosexuality is. For example, one of the plaintiff's witnesses in a lesbian relationship, acknowledge that she had been previously married to a man, and later decided (as a matter of choice) to adopt a lesbian life style -- obviously undercutting the contention that homosexuality is immutable. Herek acknowledge there is no gay gene and people don't know the cause. Is a homosexual someone with a same-sex attraction, someone who adopts a gay life style by choice, or something else? The definition is unclear and keeps changing -- so how can homosexuality be protected as something that is unchangeable? As the Plaintiffs' case neared completion on Friday, all that they seemed to have accomplish was a replay of the Prop 8 campaign. There was much emotional testimony and testimony from experts making the same arguments we have heard all to often. Their testimony did not hold up very well under cross examination. As Prop 8's General Counsel said at the end of the week, “when the video cameras stop rolling and the sensationalism of this trial fades away, it will become clear that plaintiffs have essentially presented a political argument—not a legal claim. Such a case belongs in the public debate, not a courtroom.”

Why are women having fewer babies?

I did my interview with Relevant Radio on this story.   We should have podcasts up in a few days.  We talked about the Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb DVD's.  Full disclosure: I am among the experts interviewed in the Demographic Bomb.

Oprah disses Bristol ....

Oprah gives Bristol a "chance to recant" her heretical belief system that marriage, sex and childbearing belong together. Don’t you just love how Oprah disses Bristol’s choice for abstinence?!?! If she were “choosing” to abort a baby, Oprah would never allow herself to say, “you know, you may regret that someday.” If Bristol were saying, “I would like to be President of teh US someday,” Oprah would say, “You go, girl.” Only when a young woman admits that she wants marriage and sex and child-bearing to be linked in one organic package, do the adults try to talk her out of it. Which tells you that “choice” is not really the issue. The rhetoric of “choice” is a cover, a defense for an action that cannot be defended on its own terms. (cross posted over at the RuthYouth blog. )

Teen Pregnancy Rate Up: I wonder why...

I note with interest that Reuters interviewed representatives of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research wing of Planned Parenthood. "Its all the fault of those Big Bad Social Conservatives."  Oddly enough, Reuters did not interview anyone from the abstinence education movement. I wonder why? Perhaps they dont' know where to find Leslee Unruh at the Abstinence Clearinghouse. I guess they have never heard of David Mahan, hip, urban African-American married father, who gives inspiring, dynamic presentations through his organization, Frontline Youth Communications. Maybe Reuters doesn't know about Luis Galdamez, Hispanic Abstinence Educator in Southern California and beyond.  Perhaps Reuters is unaware that many African Americans and Hispanics are involved in the Abstinence Eduation movement, precisely because they have seen first hand in their own communities, that early sexual activity creates problems that contraception cannot solve. Maybe you can help Reuters. Go and post links to these groups, in the comments section of the Reuters article where it appears in your newspaper. Maybe, the next Reuters story on this subject won't sounds so much like a Planned Parenthood press release. Better yet, remember Leslee and David and Luis when your group plans its next event.


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