Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson spits on gay parents for Father’s Day

Rose---Scott-INSETGoogle the name of Dallas News editorial writer Tod Robberson with the phrase “gay rights” and you will find zero relevant results.

It was shocking to see that over the Father’s Day 2013 weekend, Robberson published a piece titled “Mark Regnerus: Defending my Research on Same-Sex Parenting.”

The scientific community is way past having documented that Regnerus’s New Family Structure Study — funded by the virulently anti-gay, NOM- and Catholic Church-linked Witherspoon Institute — is an academic hoax, the defamatory anti-gay nature of its findings determined before data collection had even been done.

In fact, documents had via Freedom of Information Act requests to Regnerus’ UT revealed that in August 2011 — before study data collection had occurred — Regnerus and Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox traveled to Colorado for a full day meeting about promoting the study in the media with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton. Then, in September 2010, Regnerus e-mailed Wilcox telling him that he wanted to know more about Witherspoon President Luis Tellez’s and Maggie’s “hopes for what emerges from this project.” (Regnerus refuses to answer questions about just who his “Maggie” is, increasing suspicions that it is NOM’s notorious anti-gay liar Maggie Gallagher).

The worst part of the lack of integrity involved in the Regnerus hoax is found in its having being published by editor James Wright, of the University of Central Florida, in Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research on the false pretense that it had received valid peer review prior to publication. Michael Schwartz, chair of sociology at Stony Brook University, is on record calling for the Regnerus paper to be retracted and for Wright to be removed from his position for his documented editorial misconduct in publishing Regnerus. Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute submitted an essay to Wright about his publication of Regnerus titled An Illegitimate Review Process. Wright refused to publish Gates’ essay.

Even were it not for the documented misconduct involved, on the purely scientific side every major professional group that has evaluated the Regnerus paper has concluded that the paper has nothing to say about same-sex parents — and yet Robberson chose to regurgitate, in publication, the known fraudulent claim that Regnerus did “research on same-sex parenting.”

Here is what the American Sociological Association has to say in its Prop 8 and DOMA cases amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court: “by conflating children raised by same-sex parents with individuals who reportedly had a parent who had ‘a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex,’ and referring to such individuals as children of ‘lesbian mothers’ or ‘gay fathers,’ the Regnerus study obscures the fact that it did not specifically examine children raised by two same-sex parents. Accordingly, it cannot speak to the impact of same-sex parenting on child outcomes.”

Robberson in his article presents Regnerus as though Regnerus had no connection to the political uses being made of his hoax study, when in fact, Regnerus filed a Supreme Court amicus brief alleging that on the basis of his study, the U.S. government should continue to discriminate against DOMA plaintiff Edith Windsor, who has no children.

Laurie Essig of Middlebury College e-mailed Robberson with her concerns about his counterfactual presentation of Regnerus and the study. Robberson blew her off by trying to assert that the lies he published are not lies. The documentation shows otherwise, it is in my possession and also is not hard to find on the Internet.

Robberson refused to comment for my piece. Shame on him and on the Dallas News for publishing their article in defense of Regnerus’s gay-bashing junk science on Father’s Day weekend.

Scott Rose is a New York City-based novelist, investigative reporter and freelance writer. He can be reached at  newyorkcitywriter@earthlink.net

—  John Wright

The Dallas Morning News doubles down in support of marriage equality

DMNThere is perhaps no better example of America’s remarkable evolution on marriage equality than The Dallas Morning News.

Less than two years ago, the Morning News still refused to sell paid advertisements announcing same-sex weddings — and the newspaper was even prepared to go to court to defend its policy of putting gay couples under a separate heading, “Commitments.”

Under threat of prosecution from the city of Dallas, The Morning News finally reversed this discriminatory policy.

Then, last December, the Morning News for the first time published an editorial backing the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians.

Today, on the heels of oral arguments in lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, the Morning News published a second pro-marriage-equality editorial, calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down both anti-gay laws:

“It is rare that two cases of such magnitude arrived before the Supreme Court in the same session — and perhaps even rarer that public sentiment changes so profoundly and so quickly on such a controversial issue,” the newspaper writes. “The court was wise to accept both cases, and now the nation stands on the precipice of momentous cultural and legal decisions this summer.

“As this newspaper editorialized in December, we urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. It is critical that the court also make clear that such a ruling won’t require churches whose doctrines oppose same-sex marriage to perform such ceremonies. …

“We respect religious traditions that consider same-sex unions an affront to their beliefs and note that the First Amendment protects places of worship from being compelled to conduct same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, gay couples deserve the same legal rights as everyone else. Fairness demands this outcome, and change is coming.”

The editorial stops short of calling for the high court to issue a sweeping ruling in the Prop 8 case that would overturn marriage amendments in Texas and dozens of other states — which experts say is an unlikely outcome. And some cynics will undoubtedly argue the newspaper’s support of marriage equality is a business decision from a struggling daily newspaper that’s trying to appeal to the LGBT demographic.

But regardless, we’ll take it.

Now it’s time for Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council to follow suit.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: The Dallas Morning News endorses marriage equality

Talk about an evolution!

The Dallas Morning News, a historically conservative newspaper which as recently as last year refused to publish PAID same-sex wedding announcements, has come out in support of marriage equality.

An in-house editorial calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the right of gays and lesbians to marry was published to the newspaper’s website on Friday night. The editorial did not appear in Saturday’s print edition — where it may have been supplanted by a piece on the Connecticut school shootings — so we’ll see if it shows up Sunday. Here’s an excerpt:

We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. It is critical that the court also make clear that such a ruling won’t require churches whose doctrines oppose same-sex marriage to perform such ceremonies.

Debating the reversal of centuries of views about the institution of marriage cannot be considered without upheaval, and we recognize that the notion of gays and lesbians marrying can divide families, friends and, especially, generations. But the growing support for same-sex marriage, including within families whose gay members have changed the way these unions are seen, makes the embrace of gay marriage less of a radical shift.

On one hand, this is tremendous news. On the other, it’s sad that our Republican-leaning daily newspaper has come out in support of marriage equality while our mayor — who claims to be a Democrat — cannot sign a pledge in support of marriage equality or even commit to backing a council resolution.

UPDATE: The editorial appeared on Sunday. Image below.

—  John Wright

Meet Wesley Marsh, The Dallas Morning News’ token anti-gay Boy Scout troop leader

In a front-page update about the Boy Scouts’ gay ban on Thursday, The Dallas Morning News again quoted anti-gay troop leader Wesley Marsh of East Texas. It’s the second story in as many weeks about the ban in which The DMN has quoted Marsh, who’s apparently become the newspaper’s go-to Boy Scout homophobe. From Thursday’s story:

Wesley Marsh, a Boy Scout troop leader in Hawkins, a small East Texas town near Tyler, was at a Cub Scout day camp on Wednesday when he learned that key Scout leaders are reconsidering the gay-lesbian ban. He and other adult leaders in his troop represent those who support the current ban on gays.

“Biblically speaking, it’s wrong,” Marsh said. “It’s not only wrong, but it’s an abomination before God. If the gays and lesbians want to start their own organization, more power to them.”

It’s unclear why the DMN can’t find a troop leader in the Metroplex — or at least closer to the Metroplex — who shares Marsh’s views. But given his harsh anti-gay rhetoric, I couldn’t help but wonder what Marsh looks like. So I Googled him. Wanna see what I found? It’s after the jump.

—  John Wright

Craig James: I’m not a Nazi

Craig James

A while back Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell pointed out that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Craig James had hired an openly gay campaign consultant, the legendary Arthur Finkelstein.

Finkelstein, who married his partner in Massachusetts in 2005, has worked for many virulently anti-gay politicians over the years, including his instrumental role in the rise of former Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina.

But James argues that his decision to hire Finkelstein, who’s also Jewish, somehow proves that he’s “tolerant” of both Jews and homosexuals, according to the Dallas Morning News.

From The DMN’s profile of James that ran Sunday (subscription only):

James says his Christian faith informs his fiscal conservatism. “God talks about not being irresponsible with money. He talks about debt not being a good thing. He talks about people going to work and being responsible.”

He believes homosexuality is a choice and opposes gay marriage and civil unions but said that doesn’t mean he’s intolerant. As evidence, he specifically singled out two top campaign advisers who he said are Jewish, one of them openly gay.

“My actions are solid proof that I’m not judgmental,” he said.

—  John Wright

Tom Leppert convinces evangelical leaders he’s sufficiently ex-gay-friendly to represent Texas

I was baffled when I saw this headline in the DMN last week, because the story was over a year late. I now suspect the newspaper was just doing its part to help Leppert distance himself from his past.

In November 2009, after then-Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert enthusiastically joined the virulently anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas, I opined here on Instant Tea that the move was purely politically motivated because Leppert was planning to run for U.S. Senate. After calling Leppert’s decision to join First Baptist “a slap in the face to not only the LGBT community, but also to Hindus, Muslims and Mormons,” I wrote that it would be “good riddance for Dallas if he steps down to run” for Senate.

Not surprisingly, Leppert’s office, including openly gay chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh, didn’t take kindly to my comments, and let’s just say I ended up being called on the carpet. But to this day, I stand by those statements, and in retrospect, it would certainly appear as though they were dead on.

When he did finally step down as mayor to run for Senate, Leppert promptly sent out his infamous anti-gay tweet, before coming out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions on his campaign website. During his Senate run, Leppert has been attacked by the other GOP candidates for appearing at gay Pride twice while mayor, but now it looks like he’s managed to win over some of the folks you’d expect to be most critical of his decision to participate in such an “orgy” of “drunken revelries,” in the words of Lela Pittinger.

The Dallas Morning News reports today that a group of evangelical pastors, led by none other than First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress, has formally endorsed the former mayor. The group includes others such as David Dykes of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Randel Everett of First Baptist Church of Midland, etc. (On a side note, we’re sure the DMN’s main headline on its Metro page last Friday quoting Ed Oakley as saying Leppert had “abandoned gays” didn’t hurt his cause among the pastors. At first I was baffled by this headline because it was over a full year late, but now I consider it to be nothing more than a ceremonial political ex-gay cleansing by the city fathers, if you will.)

As I wrote last month, it’s sad to think that on paper at least, Leppert may be the least anti-gay of the four major GOP candidates for Senate. But I don’t care, I’ll still be glad when he comes in third May 29 behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former solicitor general Ted Cruz. And in the highly unlikely event that Leppert were to decide to never again run for public office, it would indeed be good riddance.

—  John Wright

You think you know meme? Meet Libby Serber

The word “meme” has recently itself become a meme. The word is more than a century old, but took root in the 1990s, but with the spread of Facebook and other social networking, it has become part of the culture itself.

It’s also been bastardized. Now, any YouTube video linked more than twice seems to call itself “viral;” short-term idiocy like “planking” gets the meme label, though it disappears as quickly as it arises.

You want to know a real meme, you want to know about Libby Serber.

If you are part of the North Texas theater community, or friends with anyone who is, chances are you have seen at least some reference to Libby. Her mother, Cara, is an actress in town, well-respected and even more well-liked.

About two weeks ago, Libby was just like and other 6-year-old kid. Now, she’s a cancer survivor and veteran of open-heart surgery. It all happened very quickly for Libby. Her parents Jeff and especially Cara were upfront about what was going on, and surprisingly frank and timely in their updates of Libby’s condition, which seemed, at time, to change hourly: Diagnosis, surgery, home, back to the hospital, more surgery, goofing with the other kids in the cancer ward. It was almost surreal what this beautiful little ginger-haired tyke was enduring. In not one picture, though, was she anything other than smiling.

It didn’t take long for the entire theater community to begin offering prayers and support. Soon, her photo (like the one above) was the profile picture of countless people — male, female, old and young, those who knew her and those who had only heard of her (Cara famously acted in a play, the camp musical Debbie Does Dallas, just a few weeks after Libby was born).

The word spread. Within the past few days, Libby has been profiled on NBC-5 and the Dallas Morning News. Everyone within six degrees of the Serbers know her as “our little rock star.” “Mom, I think I might be famous,” reported Cara on her Facebook page. If you want to experience the power of love, you just need to read the comments posted there.

Libby, of course, is not unique. Many kids — too many — endure such travails. But the sincerity with which the theater community (and now, the broader Metroplex, even nation) has rallied behind her is inspiring. Forget meme — Libby is part of the Zeitgeist, a child whose bravery has touched the better angels in many adults who perhaps don’t engage in the exchange of humanity as much as they should.

I’m rooting for you, Libby — everyone is.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Republican member of State Board of Education to run for Texas House in Richardson

State Board of Education member George Clayton speaks at the kickoff meeting for the new Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans in January.

George Clayton, an openly gay Republican member of Texas’ State Board of Education, announced Tuesday that he isn’t seeking re-election this year and will instead run for the Texas House District 112 seat, which covers Richardson and parts of Garland.

Clayton, who works for the Dallas Independent School District and was first elected to the SBOE in 2010, came out as gay last year in the midst of a whisper campaign about his sexual orientation among Republicans in his Collin County district.

Clayton couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

“After many hours of careful consideration and consultation, I have decided not to seek reelection to the Texas State Board of Education,” he said in an email announcing his decision on Tuesday, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Most of the work I seek to do for education in Texas is outside of the board’s assigned duties and responsibilities. Therefore, I have decided to seek election to the Texas House of Representatives in what is now district 112, which covers Richardson and portions of Garland. A formal announcement will be made in the next few days. Of course, I will complete my term on the State Board of Education. I look forward to serving the people of Texas in the legislature. Restoring strength to Texas education will be the primary focus of my legislative campaign.”

After new redistricting maps were announced Tuesday by a federal court in San Antonio, Clayton is one of two known openly LGBT candidates in North Texas who plan to run for Texas House. The other is Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez, who plans to challenge incumbent Lon Burnam in the Democratic Primary.

Texas is one of only 18 states that currently lack an openly LGBT legislator.

—  John Wright

Mayor’s misstep on marriage pledge shows how far we’ve come

Laura Miller, who became LGBT icon, opposed gay unions during 1st campaign 10 years ago

David-Webb

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

The signing of a pledge in support of same-sex marriage by some 80 mayors attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ recent meeting in Washington, D.C, represents a powerful, almost astounding stride in the LGBT community’s march to equality.

Only one big-city mayor created a controversy by refusing to sign the pledge, and that unfortunately was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who probably regrets the decision now.

His decision not to sign the pledge — even though he later claimed he personally supports marriage equality — set off a bone-jolting controversy in Dallas as LGBT activists reacted to the news.

Rawlings cancelled a planned appearance at a neighborhood meeting because of activists’ plans to demonstrate against him, and all of the city’s newspapers and television stations began covering the story. The Dallas Morning News, which is infamous for its conservative takes on many progressive measures, praised Rawlings for resisting pressure to sign the pledge.

As a result of Rawlings thwarting activists’ plans to confront him at the neighborhood meeting, GetEQUAL scheduled a “Sign the Pledge” rally at City Hall.

There was a time when LGBT activists would have given the mayor a pass on the marriage equality issue, but that has long since passed. In declining to sign the pledge, Rawlings used the excuse that he was practicing a policy of avoiding social issues unrelated to city government.

That excuse had previously worked for former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller when she chose not to address the issue of marriage equality. At the same time, she managed to achieve something close to sainthood in the eyes of Dallas’ LGBT community because of her support of a nondiscrimination ordinance addressing sexual orientation and gender identity passed in 2002.

When Miller first campaigned for mayor she and all of her opponents declared in a candidate’s forum that they opposed same-sex marriage, but they all declared support for the nondiscrimination ordinance. That apparently was enough at the time to gain the trust and support of LGBT activists, especially after it was learned she had a gay uncle and a lesbian stepsister she loved and supported.

Miller, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2007, later gave more support to the LGBT community’s pursuit of marriage equality by speaking out against Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that voters approved in 2005. She also began supporting marriage equality during her speeches at Dallas’ glittering Black Tie Dinner.

Today, Miller says that she “supports gay marriage 100 percent,” and she adds that “it will be legal nationwide sooner than later. Young people today don’t give it a second thought and support it fully.”

As the mother of two daughters and one son, Miller knows her stuff. She declined to comment on Rawlings’ decision not to sign the pledge, but it’s a pretty good bet that if Miller were in his shoes today she would have signed that pledge — policy or no policy.

Rawlings made a terrible error in judgment when he refused to sign the pledge along with the mayors of other big cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Boston, San Diego, Portland, Denver and the list goes on and on. What’s worse, Texas mayors from Austin, Houston and San Antonio signed the pledge.

If Rawlings had simply signed the pledge, it likely would have been reported by the Dallas media, there would have been a few stones thrown at him by conservative conscientious objectors and then it would have been forgotten. But now, it will continue to rage as a full-scale controversy for an undetermined amount of time.

At this point it seems like the best course of action for Rawlings to take would be to just sign the pledge, seeing as how he is already on record as supporting marriage equality. That action might stir up resentment among conservative constituents, but at least it would put Rawlings on the winning side of the debate.

The fact of the matter is that marriage equality will indeed one day be the law of the land, no matter how much that irks those who would prevent it if they could.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Morning News praises Rawlings for not signing pledge in support of same-sex marriage

Rawlings.Mike

Mike Rawlings

The Dallas Morning News published this editorial today praising Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for not signing a pledge in support of same-sex marriage last week:

“A city’s elected officials must take the lead on some controversial matters for the good of their communities,” the newspaper wrote. “But there are other hot-button issues that are not fundamental to a city’s operation, and a city is better served staying out of them. … Good streets. Economic development. Code enforcement. Those are the kinds of basics Dallas must muster. Marriage laws, as important as they are, don’t belong on that list. States set marriage laws, and, to a lesser extent, Washington has a voice in them. Cities do not.”

There are several major problems with the DMN’s editorial, but the biggest one is that their whole premise is fundamentally flawed: By not signing the pledge, Rawlings has hardly managed to side-step a hot-button issue. If that were the case, why would the daily newspaper feel compelled to write a big fancy editorial about it? On the contrary, by refusing to sign the pledge, Rawlings has accomplished just the opposite by thrusting himself right smack into the middle of a hornet’s nest.

If Rawlings had quietly signed the pledge, it’s highly doubtful we would still be talking about it a week later. He would merely have been doing the same thing as the mayors of every city in the U.S. that’s larger than Dallas. He also would have been taking the same position as a majority of Americans and undoubtedly a majority of Dallas voters, who have elected and re-elected a lesbian sheriff and almost elected a gay mayor. Perhaps most importantly, if Rawlings had signed the pledge, it would have been consistent with his own position on the issue.

That’s right, as the Morning News notes in today’s editorial but failed to report in a news story last week, Rawlings supports same-sex marriage. And guess what, no one seems to give a damn about the fact that he does. The only reason anyone cares is because he refuses to sign a pledge saying he’ll stand up for his stated beliefs and for the LGBT community.

—  John Wright