Uncivil Unions: September 2006: Archives

September 27, 2006

Could Marriage Gap Sway Midterms? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Marriage gap

During each election cycle, pollsters and analysts look for more and more data to assist in projecting or predicting which candidate or which Party is likely to win. In an article in USA TODAY, the latest statistic garnering attention is the percentage of married people living within the contested Congressional districts. If the data is accurate, the indications would suggest that Democrats might well be successful in assuming control of the House come November.

House districts held by Republicans are full of married people. Democratic districts are stacked with people who have never married. This “marriage gap" could play a role in the Nov. 7 congressional elections. Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to take control of the House of Representatives.

Twenty-seven of the 38 Republican-held districts with seats considered vulnerable by independent political analysts have fewer married people than found in the average GOP district. The USA TODAY analysis also shows that:

•Republicans control 49 of the 50 districts with the highest rates of married people.

•Democrats represent all 50 districts that have the highest rates of adults who have never married.

The “never married" group covers a variety of groups who form the Democratic base: young people, those who marry late in life, single parents, gays, and heterosexuals who live together.

The findings seem to offer further support for the urban/rural divide as well as for the red state/blue state construct. I'm not sure how to attribute the findings from a psychological perspective although my first instinct is to assume that those who marry are more apt to have conservative leanings and therefore follow a more conventional life path...one that could be viewed as more in line with what we frequently hear are established values and mores. I would therefore these married voters to be more apt to support Republican candidates. Clearly, my observations are generalizations and it would require further research to make any definitive conclusions. Nonetheless, the USA TODAY data seems to support some of my assumptions.

Most serious Democratic challenges this fall are in Republican-controlled House districts that have lower marriage rates.

For example, the two seats most likely to switch from Republican to Democratic are Arizona's 8th District and Colorado's 7th District, according to the non-partisan National Journal. The districts — in which Republican incumbents are not seeking re-election — rank 251st and 307th respectively in marriage rates among the 435 districts.

Of the five Republicans who have the lowest rates of married people in their districts, four are in tough battles with Democrats. On the other side, Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., whose district has a high marriage rate, faces a strong GOP challenge.

Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., whose district has the highest marriage rate (66.1%), says the gap exists because “people get more conservative when they settle down." Democratic pollster Mark Mellman says the gap is magnified because a greater percentage of married people vote than unmarried people.

It will be interesting to see how these races unfold and whether the results comport with the statistical data once the votes are counted. Regardless, it seems to point to one additional factor in the polarization that seems to be growing within the United States. It also provides a group of voters that both Parties need to better address in their campaign strategies given the evidence that we have a very closely divided electorate.

Daniel DiRito | September 27, 2006 | 9:31 AM | link | Comments (1)
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September 14, 2006

Conservatives: Gay Marriage Debate Hurts Religion genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Supporting gay marriage

In an effort to ratchet up the rhetoric for the November midterm election, religious conservatives are making the assertion that the debate over same-sex marriage has resulted in attacks on religious freedom. Clearly, the goal is to once again focus evangelical and other religiously inclined voters on the divisive wedge issue in order to promote a strong conservative voter turnout. Fox News has the full Associated Press article here.

By expanding the discussion from marriage to religious expression, social conservatives say they will reconnect with religious voters and religious leaders who don't necessarily view same-sex unions as a threat.

"There are a number of pastors that said,'Look, we don't get involved in politics, I'm not going to get involved in this issue, I just want to preach the gospel,'"said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council."When they realize their ability to preach the gospel may very well be at stake, they may reconsider their involvement."

Perkins and others are building a case file of anecdotes where they say religious people have spoken out against gay marriage only to be punished. Perkins specifically cited the decision by Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich in June to fire his appointee to the Washington area transit board after the board member referred to homosexuals as"persons of sexual deviancy."

Apparently, firing a public employee for making judgmental and unfounded divisive remarks is unacceptable behavior to religious conservatives. On the other hand, they assert that those who support equal rights for gays are fomenting religious oppression...a fully illogical, upside down equation. Nonetheless, they seem to believe that they are anointed with the righteousness that comes from their biblical interpretations and are therefore merely doing Gods work in promoting the victimization of gays.

Eight states have ballot initiatives in November to prohibit gay marriage, including some states with closely contested congressional races. Perkins said religious conservative groups planned to use direct mail and the Internet to alert voters about the stands candidates have taken on the marriage issue.

I would expect the Bush administration to increasingly invoke the issue as the midterm election approaches. The alliance between evangelicals and the Bush administration remains strong despite occasional reports to the contrary. Clearly, religious conservatives are focused on an additional conservative appointment to the Supreme Court...something that could be in jeopardy should Democrats gain control in November. I have no doubt that same-sex marriage and the next Supreme Court nomination will be the primary topics of church driven get out the vote efforts.

Daniel DiRito | September 14, 2006 | 9:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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September 11, 2006

Dobson & FOF Back Anti-Gay Effort In Wisconsin genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Opposing anti-gay measures

James Dobson and his organization, Focus on the Family, are getting behind an amendment in Wisconsin that would ban same-sex marriage. The organization has been a vocal supporter of such measures...leading a similar effort in Colorado. The latest efforts are reported at 365Gay.com.

(Madison, Wisconsin) With polls showing that Wisconsin could become the first state in the nation where voters reject a proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage Focus on the Family, one of the country's most anti-gay organizations, has entered that battleground.

The Colorado Springs-based FOF has filed papers with the state Elections Board last week to create a referendum committee. The filing will allow it to use the millions of dollars it collects nationally in the fight in Wisconsin.

FOF, founded by conservative James Dobson, also has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage bans in other states. In Colorado, where a proposed amendment also is on the ballot this November, the group has given half a million dollars to groups promoting the amendment - $500,000 of that - $250,000 directly from FOF and another $250,000 through its lobbying arm Focus on the Family Action.

Fair Wisconsin, which is leading the fight against the amendment, said it is not surprised that national groups like FOF are targeting the state. A public poll taken in July showed that voters were about equally divided on the amendment with 49 percent supporting it and 48 percent opposed.

Measures like the ones in Wisconsin and Colorado have assisted the GOP in boosting the turnout of conservative evangelical voters...a situation they hope will once again help them hold control of the House and the Senate. Amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman are believed to have been an important factor in the 2004 election results. I would expect to see the President and other high level Republicans invoke the issue as we approach the November election.

Last week seventeen former presidents of the Wisconsin Bar Association on Wednesday announced their opposition.

"Our founding fathers drafted our Constitution to embrace rights and freedoms which were to stand firm through all time and through all political changes. Wisconsin’s Constitution, like the United States Constitution, is a document which grants rights to citizens. It is not, has not been, and should not be used as a political means to restrict the rights of any citizens," the lawyers said.

Despite the fact that constitutional amendments have rarely been used to deny rights to citizens, the benefit the GOP receives from such bills has nonetheless made them a favorite tool. Whether the issue can turn the tide of negative sentiment directed at the Republican dominated government in the midterm election has yet to be seen. If it doesn't prove to be successful, 2006 could be pivotal in limiting the future appeal of such divisive measures.

Daniel DiRito | September 11, 2006 | 4:06 PM | link | Comments (0)
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September 8, 2006

Pope-A-Dope On Gay Marriage & Abortion Again genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Pope Benedict

Wearing his flashy red hat and Prada slippers, the Pope has once again spoken out on his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. He continues to assert that politicians who do not oppose same-sex marriage and abortion in the execution of their elected positions are failing to act according to their faith. The remarks are a clear reminder of how ideologues cannot be content living the life they choose; they are all too often driven to impose their beliefs on other people. Is it any wonder we have conflict in the Middle East, sectarian violence in Iraq, ethnic and religious cleansing, and political polarization? Reuters has the full article here.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Friday Catholic politicians could not be swayed by opinion polls and social trends into supporting practices such as abortion and the "folly" of gay marriage.

The Pope repeated his opposition to abortion and gay marriage in a toughly worded address to visiting bishops from Canada.

"In the name of ‘tolerance' your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of ‘freedom of choice' it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children," the Pope said.

Since his election last year, the Pope has often condemned gay marriage and last June a Vatican document called it one sign of "the eclipse of God" in modern times.

In his address to the bishops, the Pope also touched on the highly sensitive issue of whether Catholic politicians can back legislation allowing practices such as gay marriage and abortion even if they are personally opposed to them.

The Pope condemned such behavior by politicians as "false dichotomies".

It seems a bit ironic to me that at the time John Kennedy was running for President, he had to make clear that as a Catholic, he would not allow his beliefs to dictate his policies and that he would not capitulate power to the Pope. Today, we have an Evangelical president and numerous politicians and organizations that seek to make theological beliefs the guiding principles of our government and they are now aligned with the Pope and many Catholics in these objectives. Such is the "folly" of ideology...it morphs into whatever serves its goal of defining its "truth" as absolute "Truth"...often exposing the utter hypocrisy that makes it so repulsive to the many people who are content to allow differing beliefs.

The Pope went further in his chastising of politicians.

"They are particularly damaging when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls," he said.

"Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person. Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle...," he said.

Unfortunately, the Pope and so many others are convinced that they hold a monopoly on "truth". That is not to say their beliefs are without any merit or that they aren't entitled to their beliefs...they are...but they are also intransigent with regard to any further exploration of the truth and they create institutions in order to defend the dogma they deem to be infallible. The problem that creates is witnessed in the current wave of extremist conflict.

Osama and many others also feel that they are awash in "truth" and that it is their right and their duty to impose that upon others...regardless of their methods. Don't get me wrong, the actions of al-Qaeda are far worse than those of the Catholic Church...at this point in history. However, if one were to look back, the Catholic Church has committed its share of atrocities...in the name of "truth".

In the end, government needs to be the arbiter of equality and provide each citizen with the opportunity to embrace the beliefs they choose so long as those beliefs accept or accommodate the established social contract. When government seeks to define values or allows religious groups to usurp established governmental constructs, it is no longer impartial and it can no longer objectively execute its obligations. The more those lines become blurred, the more likely the social contract will fail.

Daniel DiRito | September 8, 2006 | 9:35 AM | link | Comments (0)
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September 3, 2006

"Ex-Gay" Leaders Misconstrue APA Statement genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Psychology

In an attempt to garner credibility, leaders of the practice of treating homosexuality in order to change their sexual orientation, have asserted that statements made by the head of the American Psychological Association (APA) were an acknowledgment to the credibility of the movement and its objectives. Gerald Koocher, President of the organization, made clear that the association had not changed its position. Read the full article here.

The Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, a group that believes some homosexuals can become heterosexuals through "deep reparative therapy," said he is convinced "peer pressure came down on the APA president like a mountain cougar and forced him" to back away from public comments he made less than a month ago.

"The APA has no conflict with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction," said Gerald P. Koocher, president of the 155,000-member APA, at the group's annual convention in New Orleans last month.

In an e-mail message early last week, Sharon Slater, president of United Families International, a nonprofit that works to protect the family as the fundamental unit of society, called Mr. Koocher's comments "an amazing turnabout," given that for more than 30 years, the "APA has aggressively opposed treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction."

These "reparative" groups have been criticized by numerous psychologists as well as by LGBT organizations for simply using societal prejudices to justify their questionable practices on people who are vulnerable and frequently struggling to reconcile their homosexuality with ingrained religious doctrines. Further, there is virtually no evidence to support the practice of attempting to extinguish what most experts consider innate sexual orientations that may well have genetic origins.

But the APA executive clarified his comments shortly after the convention.

"In a full, multifaceted therapeutic relationship, the therapist has every duty to respond to patient choice and to help patients achieve their goals," Mr. Koocher said. "I will always affirm the crucial importance of providing our services with careful attention to patients' wishes."

But Mr. Koocher said discussion of interventions in the "extremely complex issue" of sexual orientation "must balance patient choice with the therapist's ethical obligation to obtain informed consent for any therapy process."

"When dealing with sexual orientation," he said, a therapist "must" be sure that a person wishing to change is not "motivated purely from the social pressures of a homophobic environment" because therapy "will not modify societal prejudices."

Mr. Koocher further stressed that "patients must understand" that treatments intended to modify sexual orientation "lack a validated scientific foundation and may prove psychologically harmful."

Clearly, Koocher's remarks have remained consistent with the principles that underlie the practice of psychology...principles that seek to provide the client with the tools to understand and adapt to any number of life circumstances that may from time to time create anxiety and an inability to resolve complex situations.

Psychologists are not trained to determine patient outcomes by injecting their own personal values or religious beliefs...the very goal of these rogue "therapeutic" groups. It is no wonder they have misinterpreted Koocher's measured remarks in order to promote their objectives...these people are not therapists...they are manipulative ideologues bent on instilling their brand of morality on all they encounter.

Daniel DiRito | September 3, 2006 | 9:58 AM | link | Comments (1)
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