A study purporting to show that even brief contact with gay individuals could change voters’ minds on same-sex marriage has been retracted after one of the authors acknowledged the use of phony data.
The study, by Columbia University professor Donald Green and then-UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, was widely covered upon its publication inScience last December and led to headlines like “A 20-Minute Chat With a Gay Person Made People Much More Supportive of Gay Marriage” and “How to change a person’s mind on a divisive social issue in 22 minutes.”
But in a letter to Science requesting a retraction, Green said LaCour faked much if not all of the data.According to Retraction Watch, the study began unraveling when a pair of graduate students at UC Berkeley were unable to replicate the results. The students contacted a survey firm reportedly used by LaCour; the firm said it had never heard of the project and wouldn’t have been able to undertake such a study.
The pair brought their concerns to Green’s attention, who investigated and found more problems. At that point he confronted LaCour, who “confessed to falsely describing at least some of the details of the data collection.” UCLA was unable to find any of the primary data LaCour had supposedly collected, or even find evidence that he had used funding to conduct the surveys in the first place.
Green said he had initially been skeptical of LaCour’s idea for the study but became convinced when LaCour was able to replicate the findings. However, Green also distanced himself from the primary data, saying he helped LaCour primarily with the statistical analysis.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green wrote in his letter.
Per Retraction Watch, LaCour’s website listed him as slated to begin an assistant professorship at Princeton University next month, a mention that has disappeared in the last 24 hours.
James Dobson, the founder of the Religious Right behemoth Focus on the Family, warned in a recent conference call with fellow anti-gay activists that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality could lead to a full-blown civil war.
He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”
Dobson also claimed that marriage equality will lead to the collapse of the nation: “The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”
He added that a “discouraged” congressman — whom he later identified as Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp — told him that his colleagues in Congress are “scared to death” about coming out against marriage equality. “We don’t have support really anywhere in government,” Dobson lamented.
“I agree with [Home School Legal Defense Association founder] Michael Farris that the only thing we can do is to have a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution,” Dobson said. “I wish I could say I believe pouring a lot of opposition, which may not even be there now, onto the Supreme Court is going to make a big difference.”
Other activists appearing on the conference call included Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Rick Scarborough of Vision America and Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.
The state is reeling from a PR crisis since Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Miley Cyrus, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and former NBA star Charles Barkley are just a few of the high-profile figures condemning a law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday, which critics say will give businesses the option to discriminate against LGBT customers on religious grounds. Here’s a roundup of notable people and groups that have joined the rising backlash, including athletes, celebrities, leaders of Fortune 500 companies, and even city and state governments:
Athletes: A few days before Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Jason Collins, the first openly gay active player in the NBA, tweeted his opposition, asking whether he would face discrimination when he visits Indiana for the NCAA’s Final Four. Barkley, who has urged the NCAA to pull the tournament out of the state, said in a statement, “Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me.” The NCAA has indicated the games will go on as planned, but President Mark Emmert said the league was concerned about how the law might impact student-athletes, and that it would “closely examine” how the bill “might affect future events.” In a joint statement on Saturday, the NBA, WNBA, Indiana Pacers, and Indiana Fever saidthey would “ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome.”
Corporate leaders:Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff tweeted on Thursday that the tech giant was canceling programs that would require customers or employees to travel to Indiana. The San Francisco-based company bought the Indianapolis-based ExactTarget for $2.5 billion last year. Angie’s List is putting a campus expansion project in Indianapolis on hold, while Yelp’s chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman said it would be “unconscionable” for the company to maintain or expand “a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination.” Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post opposing the legislation, saying that it “rationalize[s] injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold so dear.” The chief executives of Gap and Levi’s have also since spoken out against the law in a joint statement.
Celebrities: Ashton Kutcher, Star Trek actor George Takei, Larry King, and columnist Dan Savage have all criticized the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while Miley Cyrus went as far as calling Pence an “asshole” on Instagram. The band Wilco announced that they were canceling their May 7 show in Indianapolis because of the law, which they described as “thinly disguised legal discrimination.” Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman said Tuesday that he was scrapping a scheduled stop in the city as part of his 2015 summer tour.
State and city governments: On Monday, Connecticut became the first state to join the boycott, with Gov. Dan Malloy signing an executive order prohibiting the use of state funds for travel to Indiana. Washington state soon followed, with Gov. Jay Inslee banning administrative trips there. San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland have made similar pledges, while Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has called on Indiana’s general assembly to repeal the law or add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Conventions: Gen Con, a gaming convention that brings an estimated $50 million to Indianapolis annually, has threatened to pull out of the state. “Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,” chief executive Adrian Swartout wrote in a letter to Pence before the law was passed. On Monday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced that it was pulling its women’s conference out of Indiana due to the “un-American law” that “sets Indiana and our nation back decades in the struggle for civil rights.” The Disciples of Christ, which has been based in Indianapolis for nearly 100 years, is also weighing the option of moving its biennial convention elsewhere.
Just a note about my very pro-active stance on gay marriage: IMHO everyone should have the right to be with the person they love. Government interference on the basis of religious belief has no place in a true democracy. It’s a human right not a legislative decision. Thank you Supreme Court for getting this one right…
VATICAN CITY — An important meeting of bishops at the Vatican used remarkably conciliatory language on Monday toward gay and divorced Catholics, signaling a possible easing of the church’s rigid attitudes on homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage.
The gathering of bishops from around the world called on pastors to recognize, among other things, the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.”
The meeting, or synod, was called by Pope Francis to discuss issues related to the family in contemporary society. A report was given on Monday of the main considerations under debate in the first week of the two-week gathering.
The report appeared to reflect the more tolerant and inclusive direction Francis has sought to take the church since he was chosen to succeed the far more doctrinaire Benedict XVI more than 18 months ago.
A final document will be issued by the synod next week. Though the gathering is unlikely to change church doctrine, its conversation will set — and potentially change — both the tone and the practice of the faith in parishes around the world.
Signaling the direction they are heading, the bishops called for a more merciful approach toward the faithful who stray from the Catholic ideal, citing the need for “courageous pastoral choices” to reflect the current plurality of relationships outside the traditional family model.
They urged pastors, for instance, to be more welcoming to gays, who have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” And it called on pastors to treat divorced Catholics who have remarried civilly with respect, “avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against.”
The document, however, left open to further debate the contentious question of whether they might receive communion, merely expounding the contrasting positions on the extremely sensitive issue.
“The Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcoming,” the bishops said.
The document remains “a work in progress,” according to the synod’s special secretary, Msgr. Bruno Forte, who cautioned during a news conference that it was subject to modification in coming days as working groups more closely scrutinize and debate individual points.
Also to come is a year’s worth of debate over the questions and perspectives raised by the document among local churches leading to a second synod next October at which the pope will draw his conclusions.
Even so, the sense remained that with this synod, the church was engaged in a significant effort to make its message relevant in contemporary society, and the challenges faced by the family — the report cites factors like job precariousness, economic insecurity, war and migration — even as it defended traditional doctrine on the “indissoluble union between man and woman” and same-sex marriage, which “cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man an woman.”
The document is the first complete synthesis of the multitude of discussions that have taken place at the closed-door meeting, with media access restricted to daily briefings that evoked the sense — but not the details — of the debate, which Vatican officials have described as both “passionate and lively.”
Issues as diverse as polygamy in some African countries, arranged marriages, and the education of children of mixed faith religions or born outside of marriages, came up in sessions.
“Faced by these situations, the Church is called on to be ‘the house of the Father, with doors always wide open,′ ” where “ ’there is place for everyone, with all their problems,′ ” the bishops said, citing Evangelii Gaudium, a 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis.
People seeking clues about how soon the Supreme Court might weigh in on states’ gay marriage bans should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Minnesota audience Tuesday.
Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing. She said “there will be some urgency” if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted.
She said if the appeals panel falls in line with other rulings there is “no need for us to rush.”
Ginsburg didn’t get into the merits of any particular case or any state’s gay marriage ban, but she marveled at the “remarkable” shift in public perception of same-sex marriage that she attributes to gays and lesbians being more open about their relationships. Same-sex couples can legally wed in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.
“Having people close to us who say who they are — that made the attitude change in this country,” Ginsburg said at the University of Minnesota Law School.
The Supreme Court returns from a summer recess in early October. Ginsburg wasn’t the only justice on the lecture circuit Tuesday; Justice Clarence Thomas was addressing a gathering in Texas.
Thomas, one of the court’s conservatives, expressed his firm belief in the strict construction of the Constitution during his appearance at the University of Texas at Tyler. As a judge, Thomas said, he’s “not into creative writing,” the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.
And Thomas said he’s motivated by the belief that if the country “is not perfect, it is perfectible.”
Fifteen months ago, the high court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a range of tax, health and veterans benefits to legally married gay couples. Rulings invalidating state gay marriage bans followed in quick succession.
Ginsburg spent 90 minutes before an audience of hundreds discussing her two decades on the Supreme Court as well as her days as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. In a question-and-answer period, she predicted that cases dealing with the environment and technology would make for watershed decisions in years to come.
Privacy of information carried on smartphones in the context of criminal searches could be particularly big, Ginsburg said. “You can have on that cellphone more than you can pack in a file cabinet,” she said.
The liberal justice said the court is the most collegial place she has worked as she fondly described her close relationship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. She made sure to plug a comic opera about the two of them — “Scalia/Ginsburg” — that will debut next year in Virginia.
And the 81-year-old Ginsburg elicited plenty of laughter by highlighting a Tumblr account about her called the “Notorious R.B.G.” and a never-realized dream job.
“If I had any talent God could give me, I would be a great diva,” she said.
Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen is warning clerks that they can be prosecuted for issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, even though a federal judge has declared the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Van Hollen, a Republican, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that gay couples who have married since U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued her ruling last week aren’t legally married and district attorneys could opt to charge county clerks who issued them licenses with a crime.
“That’s going to be up to district attorneys, not me,” Van Hollen said. “There are penalties within our marriage code, within our statues, and hopefully they’re acting with full awareness of what’s contained therein. … You do have many people in Wisconsin basically taking the law into their own hands, and there can be legal repercussions for that.”
Clerks began issuing licenses June 6, hours after Crabb’s ruling came out. As of Thursday, 60 of the state’s 72 counties were issuing licenses.
But confusion has swirled about what clerks can legally do. Crabb declared the ban unconstitutional but did not issue any orders telling clerks to issue licenses. Van Hollen maintains that without such an order the ban remains in place.
A federal judge on Wednesday declared Texas’ ban on equal marriage unconstitutional; the judge also ruled that the state’s refusal to recognize the unions of gay couples married in other states to be unconstitutional.
As the San Antonio Express News notes, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia stayed the decision pending the state’s appeal, meaning that the state ban on marriage equality remains in effect for now.
“Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today,” Garcia wrote in the ruling. “However, any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution.”
Gov. Rick Perry, if you can believe it, is upset by the decision and has vowed to appeal it:
Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state.
One of the couples behind the suit, Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon celebrated the decision as “a great step towards justice for our family.”
“Ultimately, the repeal of Texas’ ban will mean that our son will never know how this denial of equal protections demeaned our family and belittled his parents’ relationship,” they said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when, surrounded by friends and family, we can renew our vows in our home state of Texas.”
In a landmark ruling for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
The decision was 5-4, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,” the ruling said. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”
Cheers went up outside the Supreme Court, where supporters of gay marriage waved signs, rainbow banners and flags with equality symbols.
The law helps determine who is covered by more than 1,100 federal laws, programs and benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.
The ruling comes as states are authorizing gay marriage with increasing speed — 12 plus the District of Columbia now allow it — and with public opinion having turned narrowly in favor of gay marriage.
Under the law, gay couples who are legally married in their states were not considered married in the eyes of the federal government, and were ineligible for the federal benefits that come with marriage.
The case before the Supreme Court, U.S. v. Windsor, concerned Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a lesbian couple who lived together in New York for 44 years and married in Canada in 2007.
The board of the NAACP, the “nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization,” endorsed marriage equality at a meeting this afternoon. The move comes 10 days after President Obamaannounced his support of same-sex marriage.
The NAACP’s move comes as attitudes about gays and lesbians in the African American community are changing rapidly. A recent poll found that 54% of African Americans supported President Obama’s recent decision.
Maxim Thorne, formerly of the NAACP, broke the news over Twitter:
Since Obama’s announcement, numerous influential political figures — including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn — have joined him in supporting marriage equality.
The rap mogul with a history of anti-gay lyrics does a 180 — a turnaround that may prove more meaningful to black voters than the president’s years-long evolution
The president isn’t the only world-famous person whose stance on gay marriage has evolved. Hip-hop king Jay-Z also just publicly announced his support of same-sex marriage: “I’ve always thought [of] it as something that’s still holding the country back,” the rapper told CNN. “It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.” The remarks come as pundits weigh whether President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality will hurt him with black voters. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, but only 39 percent of black voters support gay marriage,according to an April poll. Could a supremely influential rapper whose past lyrics have been tinged with homophobia have more of an impact on black voters than Obama?
Yes. This is a huge deal: Jay-Z’s endorsement is “as big a cultural step forward as the leader of the free world making the same claim,” says Clinton Yates at The Washington Post. Jay-Z isn’t a politician, and he’s not supporting gay-marriage to get re-elected — it’s because he feels it’s right. Jay-Z is a leader in the massively influential hip-hop community, and this could “lead generations of music fans out of the fog,” changing their attitudes toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage.
And it’s much more drastic than Obama’s evolution: Jay-Z’s remarks represent a 180-turn from the homophobic and even gay-hating lyrics of his past songs, says Marc Hogan at Spin. On 2001’s “Takeover,” for example, he called rival rapper Nas a “fag model” after Nas insinuated that Jay was homosexual. If the president’s gradual evolution failed to change minds in the African-American community, then perhaps Jay’s dramatic turnaround (the rapper is called “the hood’s Barack”) will lead to some true soul-searching.
But Obama’s stance isn’t hurting him with black voters:The conventional wisdom was that “black voters will freak” when Obama backed same-sex marriage, says John Aravosis at The Daily Beast. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, they “gave a collective shrug.” A new Pew Research Poll reveals that 68 percent of African-Americans say Obama’s embrace of gay marriage didn’t change their opinion of him, even if they disagreed with the stance, while 16 percent said it actually made them view Obamamore favorably. And for other voters disillusioned with Obama, the move showed courage that will bring the president “closer to winning in November.”