Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Debate on Maryland Marriage in The Gazette

A couple of weeks ago, MoCo heavy-hitter Blair Lee made political predictions for Maryland in 2012 in The Gazette. One of the main considerations behind his predictions was the size of the black population in Montgomery County, and certain assumptions about how that population will vote. He talked about the Dream Act and then turned his sights on the marriage equality bill that will be introduced this upcoming year in the state legislature (he's against it). If it passes in the legislature and is signed by the governor, both of which are likely, there will almost certainly be a movement to put it on the ballot next November, to let the people vote on whether their neighbors should be allowed to marry.

He notes that the "gay lobby" is confident that the bill will pass.
But The Gonzales poll casts doubt on the effort’s wisdom. According to Gonzales, Maryland voters are evenly split on gay marriage, 48 percent for, 49 percent against. A closer look at the cross-tabs spells trouble for the bill.

Democrats support same-sex marriage 64 percent to 32 percent, but this support is largely limited to white Democrats (82 percent in favor). Among black Democrats, same-sex marriage is opposed 60 percent to 40 percent.

In other words, when it comes to gay marriage, black Democrats are more aligned with Republicans (79 percent opposed) than with their own party.

This drives white liberals crazy. “How could blacks be so ungrateful after all we’ve done for them — food stamps, busing, affirmative action, Obama?” The answer, of course, is that unlike secular white liberals, blacks haven’t abandoned their religious teachings and their churches. Dating back to antebellum days, churches are the backbone of the black family and social and political life. And most black churches are fundamentally opposed to homosexual marriage as a matter of morality. Secular white liberals consider religion a quaint curiosity; blacks still take it seriously. Hence, the intraparty split.

So, the strategic problem facing the gay lobby is whether to expose the gay-marriage bill to public referendum on the same ballot and at the same time as Barack Obama is running for re-election. Blair Lee: 2012 tea leaves

I admit it nauseates me to hear conservatives characterize liberals in this way, which stops any dialog before it can start by making a cartoon out of the other. No one has suggested that blacks should be grateful "after all we've done for them." There is no evidence that liberals have "abandoned their religious teachings and their churches," or that white liberals consider religion "a quaint curiosity." All of this is simple baiting, just a notch or two milder than the stuff Ann Coulter says, with no basis in reality and hardly any pretense of it. He wants to stir up anger by invoking a simplistic stereotype, there is no other point to it.

There are a couple of kernels of truth in his analysis, though. One is that the black churches, which are very influential, tend to oppose same-sex marriage. They are a powerful force in our state, they have been and will be a factor in the marriage debate. They were the dealbreaker last time and will need to be taken seriously next year.

The second kernel of truth is somewhat more subtle. Obama is extremely popular among Maryland's black population, with 85% approval, according to this article. At the same time, his favorability among white Democrats is fading somewhat, in terms of both ratings and intensity. The 2012 election could bring out the most energetic Obama supporters while the more tepid Democrats stay home, with the effect of swelling the relative numbers of black voters and the secondary effect of chipping away at support for marriage equality. Lee goes through the numbers in a credible way, I am not double-checking him. It sounds possible to me.

He asks:
It could be a perfect storm dooming gay marriage simply due to unusual voter turnout levels on two unrelated ballot items: Obama and the Dream Act.

Given the political realities, gay marriage will probably get only one opportunity to win referendum approval. If it loses next year, there won’t be a second chance. So why is the gay lobby picking the worst possible election to put gay marriage on the ballot?

Not that he minds it failing. He is of course trying to discourage those who support marriage opportunity for all couples, but if you ignore his motives it is worthwhile to pay attention to the argument.

Progressive African-American leader Elbridge James responded to Lee in Friday's Gazette. He comes out strong:
As a straight African-American, I strongly support marriage equality because gay and lesbian couples want to marry for the same reasons that my wife and I did: They love each other, they’re committed to each other and they've built a family together. Gay couples share the same hopes and dreams and also share the same worries, like making ends meet or losing their job or their health insurance — realities many here in Maryland face.

Because I travel the state regularly speaking to black voters of all ages and experiences on a variety of issues facing African-Americans, I consider myself pretty plugged into the "black community" in Maryland. Does everyone I talk to support marriage equality? No. But many do.

A Washington Post poll last year shows a huge increase in black support for civil marriage equality. And a Gonzales Research survey earlier this year actually had more African Americans in favor than opposed. Elbridge James: Conventional wisdom wrong on gay marriage

That first paragraph says it all, really. James' argument is based on the view that people who love one another should be allowed to marry and start a family. There's no need here to talk about "the homosexual lobby" or other emotional triggers that Blair Lee threw in. This straight black man supports the right of lovers to marry.

All of this discussion assumes that the bill can get passed in the legislature and that it will be put on the ballot in 2012. The same arguments apply, by the way, to the gender rights bill that will certainly be proposed in this session, but with less fanfare and less popular support (and less impact if it becomes law). Both bills have significant support in the legislature and will face referendum opposition by conservatives if they pass, and these same demographic phenomena will affect both issues.

I only quoted a small part of Blair Lee's opinion piece. James sums it up well here:
Blair Lee penned an unbelievably offensive and inaccurate column on race and poverty (“Tea leaves for 2012,” Oct. 7) that touched on the marriage question. He does not understand that, for all couples who are dedicated and committed to each other, marriage is important. It’s those quick and cheap shots that drive wedges between communities.

Lee's piece had a political motive, it was intended to discourage proponents of marriage and to use stereotypes about both liberals and African-Americans to stimulate those who are undecided in the direction of rejection of marriage. His appeal is emotional, he offers no reason why people should not be allowed to marry, only trivializes the views of "white secular liberals" in a way that makes it easy to stand mindlessly against them. I also found his piece offensive.
Fair-minded Marylanders support gay and lesbian couples going to the courthouse to get a marriage license. A majority of Maryland Catholics, whom many would assume would be opposed, are in fact solidly in favor. (A majority of Catholics nationally also support same-sex marriage.) The values of commitment and family aren’t confined to a person’s religion or race.

As a black person who has made that lifetime commitment, I’ll continue to stand strong with committed, loving gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry.

I’m proud to have the support of many African-Americans, religious leaders and state leaders like Governor O’Malley. Continue to count me when looking at African-American support.

The interesting thing about this exchange is the way the two men are talking past one another. James' discussion is not founded on some fluid political reality based on shifting public opinion, it is a matter of principle, he is talking about what marriage is and why it should be encouraged. Blair Lee's argument assumes that black people will behave as a herd, that the "black churches" will act as one and the African-American population will follow without thinking for themselves. It's an argument based on assumptions about human behavior, predicting how the crowd will behave on election day as a function of how they perceive their social group's norms. There is no principle involved, no belief is stated one way or the other about any possible consequences of marriage equality.

There is supposedly a principle opposed to marriage, some reasons that could be given for prohibiting gay and lesbian marriages, but if there is one it is not important enough to mention. One side believes that people who love one another should be able to marry, to have a home and a family regardless of whether they are the same or different sex, that these things make for happy people and a strong society. At least in this debate, the other side believes that … a majority of people will be against it.

Lee follows the crowd here. He is predicting what voters will prefer, based on their current beliefs, an educated guess about how certain powerful opinion leaders will influence them, and an observation about how the 2012 election climate may bias the kinds of voters who turn out.

BTW, note that one thing could overturn his prediction entirely; if Obama came out and said he favored marriage rights for all, gay as well as straight, the biased voter turnout could tip the referendum the other way.

James's approach is to lead while Lee's is to follow the crowd. Leaders like James look at the principles involved, evaluate them and attach themselves to the viewpoint that they believe is best, then lead people through persuasion and example to share their belief. Lee -- who has power in this county, his family founded Silver Spring and still owns major chunks of it -- passively identifies the forces that he expects will carry drifting, amoral, unthinking voters in the direction of least resistance, assuming they will obey their authorities rather than engaging in effortful introspection. I am as cynical as anybody here, I understand the disappointment that follows the expectation that people will use their brains and hearts, but if a few state leaders would fix their vision on the principle of marriage and lead the discussion rather than predicting it, Maryland could move an important big step in the right direction.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee has it basically right.

Another factor is that church-going blacks are more likely to vote than non-church-going blacks.

He's also right that moral relativism and liberal interpretation of scripture are mostly a phenomenom of white mainstream churches.

Further, other minorities, Spanish-speaking and Asian Americans also tend to be less supportive of the gay agenda than liberal whites. Both communities had to struggle in the past and found strength in their family structures.

Gay "marriage" has yet to clear an electorate in America and Maryland isn't really a trailblazer.

October 25, 2011 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum touted his support for anti-sodomy laws and said gay marriage supporters wanted to "drive faith out of the public square" in an interview with famous preacher Bradlee Dean, founder of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, a Christian punk-rock youth ministry based in Minnesota.

"And I stood up from the very beginning back in 2003 when the Supreme Court was going create a constitutional right to sodomy and said this is wrong we can't do this," said Santorum. "And so I stood up when no one else did and got hammered for it. I stood up and I continue to stand up."

In 2003, then-Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) defended anti-sodomy laws in an interview with the Associated Press because "they were there for a purpose." He added, in a quote that became famous, "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

Santorum later wrote in a 2003 USA Today op-ed, "the greatest near-term consequence of the Lawrence v. Texas anti-sodomy ruling could be the legalization of homosexual marriage." The Court struck down a Texas anti-sodomy statute, overruling a 1986 ruling upholding a similar Georgia statue.

"This is not about gay marriage, it is about changing what is right and wrong and fundamentally changing what people of faith can say and do in society," said Santorum to Dean. "The ultimate objective here is to drive faith out of the public square, to drive morality out of the laws of this country, to secularize our society with a different set of values."

Santorum said recently that he would "die on that hill" fighting same-sex marriage.

Dean himself has made numerous comments about homosexuality, including saying executing homosexuals is moral and noting that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington wanted to make homosexuality illegal."

October 25, 2011 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's RCP.com 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination Polling Summary

25.9 Cain
24.9 Romney
11.6 Perry
9.3 Gingrich
8.4 Paul
4.4 Bachman
1.9 Huntsman
1.5 Santorum

October 25, 2011 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the New Jersey congressional delegation have filmed an anti-bullying video for the It Gets Better Project, making it the first time that Republican elected officials have participated in the effort.

Ten out of the 15 members of the New Jersey congressional delegation -- including three Republicans -- participated in the video, which was spearheaded by the office of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) for National Bullying Prevention Month. The group included: Reps. Leonard Lance (R), Frank LoBiondo (R), Jon Runyan (R), Rush Holt (D), Bill Pascrell (D), Donald Payne (D), Steve Rothman (D) and Albio Sires (D), as well as Sens. Robert Menendez (D) and Lautenberg.

"There is no place in our society for bullying, especially when continued bullying leads to young adults taking their own lives," Runyan told The Huffington Post. "This issue goes beyond political affiliations. An individual's teenage years can be very difficult and it is important for our nation's youth to understand that it gets better."

"The issue of bullying is not a partisan one, but a human one," said LoBiondo. "Bullying needs to be reported and prevented, especially in our schools. This project relays a critically-needed positive message to South Jersey and the nation's youth who are considering taking their own lives. Namely, that they should hold on because it does indeed get better. In my view, anything that saves a teen's life if worth doing."

"The bipartisan effort puts forth an important, positive message that is consistent with New Jersey's landmark anti-bullying initiative signed into law earlier this year by Gov. [Chris] Christie," added Angie Lundberg, a spokeswoman for Lance.

The It Gets Better Project was started by sex columnist Dan Savage and his partner in September 2010 in response to the disturbing number of suicides by teenagers who said they were being bullied for being gay or perceived to be gay."

It is a hopeful sign of the future that members of the GOP are evolving. Even Pat Robertson realizes the GOP is "too extreme" these days.

Soon the hateful views of 1%ers like Blair Lee and homophobic GOPers like Rick Santorum of the world will be relics of our past.

October 26, 2011 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all these initiatives aren't anti-bullying, they're anti-gay-bullying

homosexuals are the focus

the problem is with what you call bullying

if you say homosexuality is wrong or demented, they consider that bullying

kids, however, should be entitled to hold those views

if because you think homosexuality is demented, you call one of your friends "gay", they consider that bullying

why? it wasn't directed at a homosexual

when you get down to it, this "anti-bullying" campaign isn't to protect kids, it's to further the gay agenda

if they were actually concerned with kids, they'd tell them not to come out until they're adults

"Pat Robertson realizes the GOP is "too extreme" these days"

he wasn't talking about opposition to the gay agenda

while we're at it, he's never been very representative of the Republican Party

"Soon the hateful views of 1%ers like Blair Lee and homophobic GOPers like Rick Santorum"

"hateful" and "homophobic" are both propaganda terms

you can object to behavior without hating individuals or fearing it

"of the world will be relics of our past"

if you think the gay agenda is the way of the future, you must be a member of the NEA or the Screen Actors' Guild

try to talk to someone in the real world occasionally

October 26, 2011 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the common wisdom is that Cain is just the flavor of the week but, after the last debate, he is clearly the candidate with the most gravitas

everyone took a shot at his 999 plan and the way he handled was actually pretty presidential

the dirty little secret of American politics is that the winner is usually who everyone likes the most

remember how Gore acted in the debate with Bush

it was a lot like the Perry-Romney episode

"Herman Cain is leading the Republican presidential primary race, according to a poll released Tuesday. Why the sudden surge? Cain's name recognition has skyrocketed in recent weeks, and he's been able to maintain an exceptionally positive image among those Republicans who've heard of him, another survey suggests.

Cain has a 25 percent to 21 percent lead over former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a CBS News and The New York Times poll released Tuesday that focuses on likely Republican votes.

Many other polls conducted this month have also shown Cain in the lead. Cain also leads Romney 30.9 percent to 24.4 percent in HuffPost Pollster's trend estimate for the race, which complies data from all publicly available Republican-preference polls.

In recent polls restricted to likely Republican primary voters and those conducted with automated methods, which tend to skew towards the most engaged Republicans, Cain has been leading the pack.

Gallup’s latest weekly survey, also released Tuesday, suggests one source of Cain's rise. Their tracking poll of recognition and favorability of the 2012 Republican field found that among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Cain's name recognition has surged over the past month. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans and Republican leaning independents in Gallup's polling now recognize Cain's name, up from 50 percent a month ago and 69 percent only a week ago.

Cain also continues to hold the top position on Gallup's "Positive Intensity Score," a measure of the intensity of favorability for a candidate. Gallup calculates the score by focusing on Republicans who recognize a candidate, and then subtracting the percent of those people who have a strongly favorable opinion of a candidate from those who have a strongly unfavorable opinion of a candidate. Cain's score is still more than double that of his nearest rival, Romney, who scored 13 percent, Gallup noted in its release.

Cain has performed particularly well on Gallup's Positive Intensity measure during the primary, having led for the past five weeks and in 20 of the last 23 releases. On the three he didn't lead over that time, all from August and September, Cain came in second to Rick Perry, who has since nosedived to only 5 percent on the measure.

Cain also leads the pack in terms of the overall percentage of those who recognize him and have a favorable opinion. According to Gallup's polling, 74 percent of Republicans who have heard of Cain have a favorable impression of him -- 8 percentage points more than his next most popular rival, Romney, at 66 percent.

Cain's surge is unsurprising given a recent Pew study, which found that news coverage of Cain has been largely positive. A subsequent HuffPost analysis of Pew's data showed the amount of coverage of Cain's campaign has also increased.

Cain also led in a recent Pew Research Center survey asking respondents which Republican candidate they had heard most about, 23 percent to 18 percent over Romney among the general public and 32 percent to 20 percent among Republicans and Republican leaners."

October 26, 2011 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Mo’Nique speaks out on same-sex marriage

A coalition advocating for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland on Wednesday served up its most spirited video — featuring Oscar-winning actress and comedienne Mo’Nique — as part of an ongoing Web campaign.

“Hey y’all, it’s your girl Mo’Nique and I’d like to share some things with you,” the Baltimore-area native, best known for her role in the movie “Precious,” says at the outset of the video produced by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

“I believe since we’ve all been given free will, let’s use our will to let others be free,” says Mo’Nique, whose real name is Monica Imes Hicks. “Gay and lesbian couples believe in commitment, family and love.”

The coalition has vowed to continue the campaign until the legislature votes next year on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. A bill passed the Senate during the past session but fell short in the House of Delegates."

October 26, 2011 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The coalition has vowed to continue the campaign until the legislature votes next year on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage"

oooOOOoooo...I'm scared

"A report, titled "All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families," is being presented Tuesday at an event in Washington drawing some high-level government officials.

Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families, is scheduled to be part of a panel discussion, and the opening speech will be given by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a staunch gay-rights supporter in a state where lawmakers will be considering a bill to legalize same-sex marriage next year.

"Same-sex marriage is a pro-family measure," Gansler said in a telephone interview."

update his resume, people

"Lisa Polyak, chair of the statewide gay-rights group Equality Maryland, says there will be a concerted effort during the legislative debate to highlight the challenges facing children of gays and lesbians."

maybe considering those challenges, we should be considerate of children and prevent these strange "families" from being created

""If you care about children, you should care that the parents don't have the legal tools to take the best care of them," she said."


you could find them parents who have "legal tools"

face it: in a gay family, at least one is not the child's parent

a gay couple shouldn't be allowed to adopt and if their biological parents are around, kids should be placed with whichever biological relative is not leading a deviant lifestyle and is willing to take them

"Polyak and her partner of 30 years, Gita Deane, were married earlier this year in Washington. They have two daughters, Devi, 12, and Maya, 15, who testified before lawmakers last year in support of same-sex marriage in Maryland."

and? what did they say?

"The root of my activism is denial of equal treatment of my children," said Polyak, citing instances where her daughters had been hurt by other people's comments.

"One child told my daughter she was not allowed to come over to our house because we weren't really a family," Polyak said. "For them, it's a constant source of sadness and hurtfulness.""

and the scary thing is...these people expect to change this by legislation

what's next? will people be sued for discrimination if they don't want their kids hanging out at gay house?

personally, I'm not worried

this is the kind of crap that will start the backlash

October 26, 2011 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After drastic changes were proposed for New York City public high school and middle school sexual education classes, some politicians and parents are enraged over the content those changes would include.

The curriculum asks students to refer to Columbia University's website for information on questions surrounding topics ranging from phone sex to vibrators and bestiality, the Washington Post reported.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) called the changes "explicit and graphic," the Post reported.

The New York Daily News reports that Reps. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn) and Michael Grim (R-S.I., Brooklyn) have joined the NYC Parents' Choice Coalition in their efforts to lobby instead for an abstinence-based program.

"Parents had no say in this mandate," Turner told the Daily News "The Archdiocese of New York, Orthodox Jewish groups, Muslims, many are saying this is a sensitive and delicate subject, and they want more say in what is taught."

CNN notes that Department Of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said the new curriculum isn't leaving out abstinence, only including other things as well.

"Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum," he said in a statement. "But we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions."

While the NYC Parents' Choice Coalition continues to rally against the changed curriculum, the NYC Department of Education is mandating that all schools have a sex ed curriculum by the spring of 2012.

October 27, 2011 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More "CBS News and The New York Times poll released Tuesday" results:

"1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?

Approve 46% Disapprove 46% Don't know 8%

7. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

Approve 9% Disapprove 84% Don't know 7%

15. Do you feel that the distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair, or do you feel that the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people?

Fair 26% Should be more even 66% Don't know 9%

16. Do you think Barack Obama does or does not have a clear plan for creating jobs?

Does 38% Does not 56% Don't know 6%

17. Do you think the Republicans in Congress do or do not have a clear plan for creating jobs?

Does 20% Does not 71% Don't know 9%

19. In general, do you think the policies of the Obama Administration favor the rich, favor the middle class, favor the poor, or do they treat all groups equally?

Favor rich 28% Favor middle class 23% Favor poor 17% Treat equally 21% Dpn't know 10%

20. In general, do you thing the polices of the Republicans in Congress favor the rich, favor the middle class, favor the poor, or do they treat all groups equally?

Favor rich 69% Favor middle class 9% Favor poor 2% Treat equally 15% Don't know 6

34. In order to try to create jobs, do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea to significantly cut payroll taxes for working Americans?

Good idea 51% Bad idea 37% Don't know 12%

35. Do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea for the federal government to provide money to state governments so they can avoid layoffs of public employees?

Good idea 53% Bad idea 39% Don't know 9%

36. Do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea for the federal government to provide money to state governments so they can avoid layoffs of workers such as teachers, police, and firefighters?

Good idea 65% Bad idea 29% Don't know 6%"

October 27, 2011 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"37. In order to try to create jobs, do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea to spend money on the nation's infrastructure such as bridges, airports, and schools?

Good idea 80% Bad idea 15% Don't know 5%

38. In order to try to create jobs, do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea to significantly cut taxes for small businesses?

Good idea 78% Bad idea 18% Don't know 4%

39. In order to try to create jobs, do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea to repeal or reduce existing regulations on U.S. businesses?

Good idea 50% Bad idea 31% Don't know 19%

40. In order to try to create jobs, do you think it is probably a good idea or a bad idea to lower taxes for large corporations?

Good idea 27% Bad idea 67% Don't know 6%

42. Do you think Congress should try to repeal the health care law that was passed last year, or should they let it stand? IF REPEAL, ASK: Should they repeal the entire law or only certain parts?

Repeal entire law 25% Repeal certain parts 20% Let stand 41% Don't know 15%

43. In order to lower the nation's budget deficit, do you think taxes should be increased on households earning one million dollars a year or more, or should the government address the budget deficit without increasing taxes on those households?

Should be increased 65% Should not be increased 30% Don't know 5%

48. From what you have heard or read, would you say you generally agree or disagree with the views of the Occupy Wall Street movement?

Agree 43% Disagree 27% Don't know 30%

49. Regardless of your opinion, do you think the views of people involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement generally reflect the views of most Americans, or not?

Reflect most Americans 46% Do not reflect most Americans 34% Both 2% Don't know 18%

105. Do you consider yourself to be a support of the Tea Party Movement or not?

Yes 24% No 66% Don't know 10%"


October 27, 2011 10:28 AM  
Anonymous DEMOCRATS !! said...

On Thursday, a federal judge in North Carolina refused to dismiss criminal charges against John Edwards, local station WTVD reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles ruled in Greensboro that the federal government's case against the former presidential candidate and U.S. senator must proceed.

Lawyers for John Edwards worked Wednesday to undercut the federal government's criminal case against the former presidential candidate before it ever gets to a jury.
Edwards is scheduled to be tried in January on charges that he asked two wealthy campaign donors to provide nearly $1 million in secret payments used to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic Party's nomination for the White House in 2007 and early 2008.

October 27, 2011 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Even in liberal, cosmopolitan New York City, sex education is controversial—at least in the media.

Last week, the New York Post published a breathless article about the city’s new comprehensive sex ed curriculum, which will be rolled out this spring for middle and high-school students. According to the Post, some unspecified number of “parents” are feeling “furor” at the following “bawdy” homework assignments:

· High-school students go to stores and jot down condom brands, prices and features such as lubrication.

· Teens research a route from school to a clinic that provides birth control and STD tests, and write down its confidentiality policy.

· Kids ages 11 and 12 sort “risk cards” to rate the safety of various activities, including “intercourse using a condom and an oil-based lubricant,” mutual masturbation, French kissing, oral sex and anal sex.

Regarding this last assignment, an October 18 New York Times op-ed by two authors affiliated with the hard right American Principles Project borrowed the “parental rights” rhetoric of the Tea Party to claim that teaching seventh-graders that kissing and petting are less risky than oral sex or vaginal intercourse violates parents’ right to control what their children hear about “sensitive issues of morality.” Although the city plans to allow parents to opt their children out of lessons on how to use contraception, parents should be able to remove their kids from any part of the sex ed curriculum they choose, the authors argued.

The research consensus on sex ed is clear: the vast majority of abstinence-only programs, which tend to portray all premarital sexual activity as sinful and unhealthy, have no record of delaying sexual intercourse. The one abstinence program that does successfully delay sexual initiation has little in common with its peers; instead of portraying sex in a negative light, it focuses on teaching kids about sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and herpes. Meanwhile, students who receive comprehensive sex ed, which includes lessons on how to obtain and use contraception, are more likely to use protection when they do have sex, and less likely to become pregnant."

October 28, 2011 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But the never-ending sex ed wars aren’t really about what “works” in terms of keeping kids healthy and preventing teen pregnancy. As sociologist Kristin Luker demonstrates in her excellent book When Sex Goes to School, a person’s position on sex ed is a proxy for a deeper set of questions: whether or not one supports the changes in gender and economic norms that have brought women into the workplace, delayed the average age at marriage and allowed couples to experience sex without the burden of pregnancy, through the use of hormonal birth control. “Abstinence-only education,” Luker writes, “rejects the core principle on which the harm-reduction model is based: that each individual should decide for himself or herself what is proper sexual behavior. Instead, it substitutes a single value for everyone, namely, no sex outside (heterosexual) marriage.”

The problem with this ideology is that it is based on a fantasy. Ninety-five percent of Americans have premarital sex, and the average age of sexual initiation is 16 for boys and 17 for girls. These numbers have remained remarkably consistent since the early 1960s. What has changed is the particular risks facing our inner-city youth. According to the Guttmacher Institute, since the 1980s, the number of urban, minority youth reporting sexual initiation before the age of 15 has increased. In one 2001 study, 31 percent of urban minority boys and 8 percent of urban minority girls reported having sex in seventh or eighth grade. By the end of tenth grade, a majority of both the girls and boys reported that they had sex.

It is exactly this population that the New York City sex ed curriculum was crafted to reach. And though teaching middle-schoolers about safe sex is eternally controversial, the evidence suggests that for a significant portion of our urban youth, seventh grade is actually too late to begin having these conversations, since they are already sexually active.

A sex ed curriculum based in reality acknowledges these risks and attempts to mitigate them. And since there’s no evidence at all that comprehensive sex-ed hastens children’s sexual initiation, there is little downside. After all, even the most progressive sex ed curriculum teaches kids that delaying sex is the only 100 percent effective method for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."

October 28, 2011 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their is nothing wrong with grown-ups haveing a relationship even if they are the same sex, if all participants agree to it. Maybe"conventional" morality disapproves but in the real world most people accept same-sex relationships and there is nothing demonstrably wrongwith it, that is, it doesn't hurt anybody.

Sex with children does hurt someone. Children cannot give consent because they are not in an situation with an equal, the adult always has power over the child. There are many reasons why it is morally and otherwise wrong to have sex with children.

This coach was attracted to children who were the same sex as him. If he was gay it would have been very much easier and smarter for him to meet a man and have a relationship, or to places and meet guys, but he did not do that. Instead he took the much harder and much riskier path of creating a situation where he could cultivate child victims and rape them.

You want to focus on the fact that aman had sexual desire for boys, as if that was the same as being attracted to men, and it is not.

everybody reading this understands what you are doing. Gay people prefer consensual romantic and sexual partners of their own sex, child molesters prefer children, often of one sex or the other. Child molesters are horrible monsters and should bepunished and isolated from society, while gay people don't hurt anybody or anything. But you want to classify the two together, as if they are the same thing, because of your overwhelming and irrational hatred of gay people. I think its time for you to get over it and learn to love your gay neighbor as yourself.

All knowledgeable adults look at this story and see that Jerry Sandusky is a monster with a criminal appetite for children. You must realize that this discussion is making you look pertty stupid at this point, don't you?

November 14, 2011 5:02 PM  

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