Sunday, November 23, 2008

Native Americans Painted With Gay Brush In Florida Adoption Case

Bill Lyndsey, who authors Bilgrimage, has been discussing how the religious right has suddenly found solidarity with the black community, and like me is somewhat cynical as to this sudden 'conversion'. It didn't take a statistical genius to interpret the voting demographics surrounding the anti gay initiatives in California, Florida, and Arkansas. I have stated on this blog that although California's Prop 8 has been getting the press, the initiative that really bothered me is the one in Arkansas that banned gays and unmarried heterosexuals from adopting. Adoption policy is the one area where homophobia will effect straights.

Shortly after the election, I put on my cynical hat in an effort to try and figure out which would be the next group the right would choose to bash--black racism having lost it's punch in the right's desire to co opt their gay initiative votes. I was pretty sure it would be the Native American community.

After all this is a minority group with a certain amount of independence from state and federal government, and they have gambling. They have a lot of gambling, and it was corrupt lobbyists in tribal employ that took down some very high profile right wing Republicans like Tom Delay and a senator from my very own state. I figured it was time for paybacks. Little did I know how the first salvo would be shot. It came in a Florida trial over a gay man adopting two foster children he has had in his home for four years.

Florida bans all gays from adopting, while allowing convicted felons and drug abusers to adopt. Apparently the foster care system allows gays to be foster parents, but I'm sure we can look forward to an initiative to close that loophole. In the meantime this trial has pitted social workers and psychologists against each other, as reported in the Miami Herald.

One of the 'social scientists' testifying for the state is George Rekers who is a retired professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of South Carolina. Professor Rekers has made a booming career for himself with think tanks like the Family Research Institute by interpreting social statistics in the light of the Gospel. Here's the words of the man himself:

"Under cross-examination, Rekers, who also has a theology degree, acknowledged that he taught and practiced psychology from a Christian perspective, and had written books condemning social science that doesn't recognize ``the moral laws of God.''
''To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations,'' Rekers wrote in a 1982 book."

So now we know what Mr Reker's bias is, but he goes much further in his testimony as the State of Florida's expert witness. He demonstrates exactly how one uses statistics to bolster one's Godly position, and how those same kinds of statistics can be used against another group.

"Gay men and lesbians have two to four times the likelihood of suffering from major depression, anxiety or substance abuse, based on several national studies, Rekers testified. Gay men, he said, are four times more likely than straight men to attempt suicide.

Depressed people, Rekers said, ''are less consistent in their parenting, less positive [and] have higher rates of neglecting child needs.'' Gay people, he added, ``would have less capability of providing the kind of nurturing and secure emotional environment for children.''

The lives of gay people can also be stressful to children, Rekers testified. The children may experience teasing and bullying from other children who don't approve of their parents' orientation. And children with gay parents are likely to suffer from repeated separations because gay people are more likely to have multiple failed relationships.

Rekers said he would, in fact, favor banning anyone from adopting who had more than 18 ''sex partners'' during a lifetime. ''I think that would be a very good social policy,'' he said in a deposition.

He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. ''They would tend to hang around each other,'' Rekers testified. ``So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things.'' (Gee, maybe that's because a lot of them live on reservations.)

Do you suppose it's a coincidence that Florida is home to the Seminole tribe? The very first tribe whose desire to increase their bingo revenues resulted in our current Native gaming policies? I don't. I strongly suspect the right will be giving us oodles of statistical information on the evils of gambling. Just like the evils of being gay and the evils of being Native American.

Mr. Rekers left out the part about the fact that living in overtly racist and homophobic societies might have a lot to do with the mental health statistics he quotes. That's OK, I for one don't mind being lumped in with Native Americans. They have a real and effective attitude concerning spirituality and science. They know from past experience what the 'foster' care system is like and how 'benevolent' Christians like Mr. Rekers really are, and so being equated with homosexuality should come as no surprise to them. I just hope no one else is too surprised.

1 comment:

  1. Colleen, great post. I'm just checking news as I prepare for something that will occupy me today. But as I do so, I wanted to mention that Pam Spaulding also posted on this topic yesterday. If you haven't seen her post, I think you'll enjoy reading it (it may be a post she picked up rather than wrote).

    It's at;jsessionid=C43A5A8EF0589C8D332E6F6E4393573A?diaryId=8372