Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #78 -- August 2006


1. Massive Fraud in Crisis Pregnancy Centers
2. Cohabiting Carolina Couples Can Come Out
3. When The Oppressed Oppress
4. Special Rights or Anti-Discrimination?
5. Correspondence: Major League
6. New Book, New Website--So Order!

1. Massive Fraud in Crisis Pregnancy Centers

SI readers already know Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA): we've discussed his superb report on inaccuracies in federally-funded abstinence programs (#59), for which he received a 2005 Sexual Intelligence Award (#60).

Last week Congressman Waxman released a report on federally funded "pregnancy crisis centers." His investigators contacted 23 of the centers, requesting information about an unintended pregnancy. Twenty of the centers provided false or misleading information about the potential risks of abortion.

Posing as teenagers desperate with unplanned pregnancies, callers were told lies about abortion--that it leads to infertility, breast cancer, mental problems, and relationship problems. All of these notions have been scientifically debunked over and over, including reports by the National Cancer Institute and the American Psychological Association. 

Often affiliated with anti-choice religious groups, few of these pregnancy "resource" centers received any federal funding before 2001. As a pet project of President Bush, however, the centers have received some $30 million in federal money since then. In addition, eleven states now allow motorists to purchase "Choose Life" license plates, which channel the resulting government funds to these centers--which promise comprehensive medical advice and services but deliver anti-abortion propaganda instead. Reproductive rights groups are ineligible to get these government funds. Attempts to get "pro-choice" license plates, unfortunately, have been rejected by many state courts.

As they have done in many arenas, conservative government and the Religious Right challenge the scientific facts about the impact of abortion. They claim there are "controversies" about this, just as they say there are "controversies" about evolution and about the alleged impact of adult entertainment on local communities. By successfully framing a fact-versus-belief debate as a "controversy," they cleverly devalue science and legitimize emotion as the basis of public policy. That's the worst legacy of the Right's favorite strategy: since everything is a matter of belief, there's no such thing as expertise--only authority.

2. Cohabiting Carolina Couples Can Come Out

In 2004, Pender County (NC) Sheriff Carson Smith told dispatcher Deborah Hobbs that if she wanted to keep her job, she had to either marry her boyfriend or stop living with him. After all, she was not only immoral, she was breaking the law.

Last week, State Superior Court Judge Benjamin Alford ruled that the 200-year-old law forbidding unmarried cohabitation violated Hobbs' constitutional right to liberty, citing Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision that decriminalized sodomy.

The state attorney general had argued that Hobbs couldn't challenge the law because she wasn't charged with a crime--her civil rights had merely been violated. This was the same argument used to maintain institutionalized racism in North Carolina (and the rest of the country) for hundreds of years--you haven't been murdered, your house hasn't been burned down, so shut up, go away, and live as we see fit.

The Christian Action League (motto: we know what's best for you) was among the domestic Taliban decrying the decision: it "egregiously lowered a great moral standard" and was "judicial activism at its best."

Along with the "homosexual agenda" to destroy civilization, "judicial activism" is the Christian Right's other bogeyman du jour. Let's kill it off once and for all.

One of the Founders' finest accomplishments was writing Montesquieu's "separation of powers" into the Constitution. In monarchies and totalitarian systems, the courts and legislatures work for the state--i.e., for the head of state. The American nation was founded by people deeply suspicious of centralized government, and so they split the government into three independent sectors. Congress makes laws. The Executive branch operates the government (the army, the borders, tax collection). The Judicial branch interprets the law, which includes judging which laws may exist under the rules of the American system.

Congress can't, for example, reintroduce slavery, disallow blind people from voting, or criminalize heresy--no matter how large a majority of Americans might want these.

The genius of the American system is to deliberately and permanently put the courts, legislature, and executive branch into a tense standoff with each other. The courts do not work for "the government," nor even for (a majority of) "the people." The courts work for the law. And when the government attempts to impose itself on people beyond what the law allows, or "the people" demand laws that go beyond what the law allows, it's the courts' job to step in and rescue the law from government greed or popular passion.

Today's complaint of "judicial activism" is code for "judges reminding us that there's a limit to what lawmakers can criminalize or require, especially in the realm of personal freedom." The federal judiciary that conservatives now want to limit and transform was appointed primarily by conservatives. You'd never know it, but seven of our nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents--as was recently-retired Sandra Day O'Connor, now somehow painted as a liberal hippie-chick.

Maybe that's because she summed up our system of government a year ago by saying, "It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs, but we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment."

3. When The Oppressed Oppress

Gay Pride Day was July 22 in countries across Europe. Unfortunately, many nations liberated from Communism still don't understand the meaning of democracy. Parades and events were attempted in Latvia, Russia, Romania, and Poland, only to be denied or cancelled because of threats of violence. Smaller indoor gatherings of gays were then disrupted with beatings.

Such events in Latvia are particularly painful for me. When I visited there in 1989, they were still under brutal Soviet occupation--the climax of 800 years of control by various outsiders. I was treated warmly by proud and intelligent people. On my last day there, at the end of my lecture to 300 high school students about sex and love (!), I told them, through tears, that I yearned to come back one day--to celebrate their independence. A year later, their dream of independence came true.

To hear that this freedom-loving nation, which has suffered repression by the Crusaders, Poles, Russians, Nazis, and Soviets, cannot somehow tolerate sexual diversity in its own people, saddens and enrages me.

Freedom doesn't mean "freedom for people who think like me and make love like I do." Nor does freedom merely guarantee rights that the majority believes are important, ignoring stuff they think is trivial, like sexual rights. Overall, Latvians are no worse than Americans (their nude beaches are legal and their abortion policy is far more liberal than South Dakota's). But it's always sad when someone you love turns out to be a bully.

Isn't that why our hearts are breaking over America's war on sex?

4. Special Rights or Anti-Discrimination?

States across the country are scrambling to change their constitutions--a rare, historic task requiring a deep consensus. You know the issue that has state legislators writhing in protest--allowing same-sex couples to marry. State courts are panicked as well, creating byzantine arguments to justify legalized discrimination.

The latest cases, in New York and Washington, underlined that children benefit when their parents marry. The Washington decision is based on some logical sleight-of-hand that any high school debater could demolish--the claim that "limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race." What exactly is it about letting gays marry that would diminish the motivation of heteros to procreate?

The Washington court even elevated procreation to mystical status, declaring that since only heteros can procreate, only they are capable of "responsible child-rearing." Does that mean no-longer-fertile grandmothers can no longer parent? What about parents who get sterilized?

The argument that a certain kind of consensual adult coupling is unnatural or unhealthy has been used for centuries to block challenges to the status quo. Mixed-religion marriages were prevented in America's early days, and laws preventing mixed-race marriage were enforced across America until 1967. Millions of Black-white and Asian-Latino marriages now dot the country--do they challenge the stability of any same-race marriage?

Theological and emotional arguments aside, there is one fact no one can deny: civil marriage confers hundreds of tangible benefits on those eligible for it. These benefits involve money, health, safety, death, parenting, and more. Government shouldn't be in the business of certifying relationships (and it hasn't done a very good job of this, has it?). But since it is handing out these civil rights and benefits, it shouldn't distribute or withhold them according to arbitrary features of the relationship.

Virtually every court decision and state constitutional argument over same-sex marriage says that marriage is 1) really valuable for adults and 2) really critical for children's well-being. Gay columnist Dan Savage responded beautifully in this week's New York Times: "Courts have found that my son's parents have no right to marry, but what of my son's right to have married parents?"

5. Correspondence: Major League

Last month (#77) we reported on the Colorado Rockies' new policy of seeking out Christians for its baseball team. We described the (founding owners) Coors family's history of union-busting, anti-choice philanthropy, and racism, highlighted by the fact that the Rockies only have two black players.

Long-time New York reader Bob Berkowitz offers a correction. "The Colorado Rockies are not alone in having just two African-American ball players," he says. "That's now the average in the major leagues." Indeed, I've watched a few games since Bob's note, and realize how few blacks there are in baseball anymore. The lesson for me: I must constantly notice and evaluate my assumptions. The world out there keeps changing, and I must keep pace.

Perhaps this October Bob's beloved Mets will meet my favorite collection of millionaires, the Boston Red Sox--who, Bob, feature exactly 1 African-American starter.

6. New Book, New Website--So Order!

My latest book is scheduled for publication on October 1. America's War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, & Liberty will be available at some local bookstores and on Better yet, order it from me now (before August 30) and get a 20% discount (personally signed if you like). For the book's table of contents, first and last chapters, lots of "rave reviews," and an order form, go to To get your SI subscriber's discount, enter code SI20.

By the way, I'm offering a 100% guarantee--if you order it from me and don't love it, send it back for a full refund.

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