Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Update: Over-the-Rainbow Adoption Bill Dies in Virginia Senate

On February 6, I posted some comments on a bill patroned by Delegate Dick Black (R-Loudoun County), one of the more sex-obsessed members of the Virginia General Assembly, that would have effectively prohibited gay Virginians from adopting children, regardless of whether such adoptions would be in the best interest of the children in question.

The bill was later watered down through the legislative process, so that it would simply require that "the circuit court's investigation of a petitioner for adoption to include an inquiry into whether the petitioner is known to engage in current voluntary homosexual activity or is unmarried and cohabiting with another adult to whom he is not related by blood or marriage."

Today the state Senate's Courts of Justice Committee killed the bill. As reported by the Associated Press:

On an overwhelming voice vote, the Courts of Justice Committee refused to send Del. Richard Black's bill to the Senate floor. The House of Delegates had passed the bill 71-24 last week.

Black's desperation to see his bill succeed led him to bring the discredited Paul Cameron to Richmond to testify in favor of the bill. Fortunately, at least one state senator knew that Cameron is a fraud and a charlatan. The AP reported:

Opponents of the legislation attacked the credibility of Black's chief witness: Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., who claimed that homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes "disrupt society" and have a much lower than normal life expectancy.

Responding to questions from Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, Cameron acknowledged that the American Psychological Association expelled him in 1983 for violating the association's ethical principles. The American Sociological Association adopted resolutions in 1985 and 1986 saying Cameron had consistently misrepresented sociological research, he acknowledged.

Cameron said those rebukes stemmed from "political differences." He said the ASA and other organizations have begun a covert "affirmative action" program favoring gay couples in adoptions to make up for what they believe to be past discrimination.

That Black could be misled to believe that someone like Cameron could be a viable witness on behalf of his legislation shows just how blind to reality the Delegate is. While he shouldn't be faulted for not reading the professional journals dealing with psychology or sociology, certainly he (or his legislative research staff) are familiar with such publications as, say, The New Republic, which carried a devastating critique of Cameron's sham science as early as 1994 (and available on line at the Independent Gay Forum).

In The New Republic, Mark Pietrzyk reported:
During the 1980s [Cameron] published hysterical pamphlets alleging that gays were disproportionately responsible for serial killings, child molestation and other heinous crimes.

Shortly after Cameron made these claims, several psychologists whose work he had referenced -- including Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, director of the Sex Offender Program at the Connecticut Department of Corrections -- charged Cameron with distorting their findings in order to promote his antigay agenda. When the American Psychological Association (APA) investigated Cameron, it found that he not only misrepresented the work of others but also used unsound methods in his own studies. For this ethical breach, the APA expelled Cameron in December 1983. (Although Cameron claims he resigned, APA bylaws prohibit members from resigning while under investigation.)

* * *

Unfortunately, the misrepresentations persist. Distortions and sloppy methods continue to shape Cameron's studies. As anyone who has taken a statistics class knows, a survey is valid only if the sample it uses is representative of the whole population. Sex surveys pose a particular problem, since many people who normally would be included in a representative sample are loath to discuss their private lives. That, however, hasn't deterred Cameron from his work.

Consider, for instance, his 1983 ISIS study, a survey of the sexual and social behavior of 4,340 adults in five American cities. Although thousands of heterosexuals allegedly responded to his survey, Cameron could get only forty-one gay men and twenty-four lesbians to respond. The extremely small sample size should have invalidated any conclusions about the sexual behavior of the gay population. In any case, the skewed results of the survey show that Cameron did not get an adequate random sample of heterosexuals either. He claims to have found that 52 percent of male heterosexuals have shoplifted; that 34 percent have committed a crime without being caught; and that 12 percent have either committed or attempted to commit murder. Most people would toss out such a survey but Cameron published the results in several pamphlets and in “Effect of Homosexuality upon Public Health and Social Order," an article in Psychological Reports.

Pietrzyk's full article deserves reading, since it offers many specific examples of Cameron's weird science.

A long time ago, an acquaintance of mine briefly dated "Dr." Cameron's daughter, when the family still lived in the Washington area. My friend mentioned in conversation one day that he was in the Camerons' basement, waiting for the daughter, when he noticed that the room was stacked floor to ceiling with gay pornography. "Dr." Cameron claimed this was "research material," but something tells me that this goes far beyond the call of duty, even for a reputable psychologist. It strays into the realm of the creepy.

I really think that Paul Cameron's presence in Richmond at Dick Black's behest served to sink the bill. I hope that every time Dick Black patrons an anti-gay bill, he brings in Paul Cameron for support.

Follow-up: Tim Hulsey does my anecdote on Paul Cameron's porn collection one better, by digging up a marvelous quotation from Cameron in -- of all places -- Rolling Stone. (Was he posed provocatively on the cover with boy-band members? Or was he consulted on Rod Stewart's digestive tract?) Here's Tim's gem:

Finally, gentle reader, consider Cameron's most famous quote, published in a 1999 issue of Rolling Stone magazine: "Marital sex tends toward the boring end. Generally, it doesn’t deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does ... The evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women if all you are looking for is an orgasm." I'm not sure, but I suspect most heterosexual men and woman would disagree with that.

They may disagree, but they'd be wrong. (It's frightening to think that my opinion on something corresponds to one of Paul Cameron, Defrocked Psychologist. But it's the only overlap, I assure you.)

Has anyone ever thought that Paul Cameron is something like Fred Phelps -- if they didn't exist, the gay movement would have to invent them? I mean, if you want to discredit your opponents, make sure your opponents are so loony that nobody can take them seriously.

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