Friday, February 24, 2017

This is so special: NOM v. JAMA

Brian S. Brown
Brian S. Brown and the religious ignoramuses as National Organization for Marriage don't like an article that was published to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Pediatrics.  I wrote about the research on Monday. Researchers note that, as an issue of fact, teen suicides have declined with marriage equality. Researches analyzed the data from states that did, and did not, provide equal marriage prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Little wonder why Mr. Brown is a tad distressed.

The JAMA journals are among the world's most prestigious scholarly annals due, in part, to the rigorous peer review process. The email from Brown is titled “Flimsy Study, Fake News.” They are free to disagree but no article in JAMA is ever “flimsy” and nobody associated with NOM has the erudition to make that judgment. The really need to stop calling stuff they don't like “fake news.” The media have fairly and accurately reported the findings of the research.

I see that Mark Regnerus has now weighed in as well, Perhaps I can respond over the weekend. But I digress.

According to Brian Brown:
But like much of the fake news coverage this study has generated, the study itself leads people to a fake conclusion: that somehow the enactment of same-sex 'marriage' results in reduced teen suicide attempts, especially for LGBT teens. In fact, the study proves nothing of the sort. Indeed, some data in the report suggest the opposite may be true in states that have had experience with same-sex marriage the longest.

We published a detailed critique of the study on the NOM blog that goes through some of the many problems with the way the study is being presented by the media. But here are the key things to keep in mind:
As for their “detailed critique” on NOM's blog; “This entry was written by NOM Staff.” That probably means Brian S. Brown. Whomever it was we can safely assume that they know little or nothing about the science of human sexuality. Their objective was the same as it always has been; to try to conform science to the teachings of the Catholic Church. According to Brown:
The report states conclusions as if they are proven facts, but they are not. The authors admit this in the body of the report with such language as "the analyses... should be interpreted with caution"... "it is unclear what drives greater rates of suicide attempts among adolescents who are sexual minorities"... and "[we] emphasize that these estimates are subject to bias.
The authors are making the intellectually honest attempt to separate factual data from their analysis. What Brown is feebly referring to is this:
The analyses on the association between implementation of same-sex marriage policies and adolescent suicide attempts among those identifying as sexual minorities should be interpreted with caution given the limited data availability on sexual orientation (eTables 1 and 2 in the Supplement) and the potential for same-sex marriage to affect sexual minority identity. We also could not control for unmeasured individual-level characteristics, including socioeconomic status, or for unmeasured state characteristics that may change over time, such as religious affiliation or acceptance of sexual minorities. Finally, our analysis does not allow us to understand the mechanisms through which implementation of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts. There is a need for further research to understand the association between sexual minority rights, stigma, and sexual minority health.
If we go to the supplement, which is a separate PDF, we see that the authors are trying to demonstrate in the first table the variances in data collection among the 50 states. Good researchers (and reputable scholarly journals) are very good at disclosing issues that might impact their analysis:
The next table that they refer to (I have provided a small sample) demonstrates the differences in both the approval of same-sex marriage and data collection by state:
Click to enlarge
The authors are simply being very cautious and JAMA does have very stringent standards for peer review.

Brown continues to squeeze the poor bat:
There is no evidence whatsoever presented establishing that same-sex 'marriage' causes a reduction in teen suicide attempts. This admission is buried deep in the report, "[O]ur analysis does not allow us to understand the mechanisms through which implementation of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts."
Brown needs remediation in reading comprehension. What they are saying is that they do not know (to a scientific certainty) why marriage equality reduced teen suicides — only that it did. My speculation was that teens garnered an improved outlook. But I don't write scientific articles subjected to peer review; and neither does Brown.

By this evening the bat will require milk of magnesia:
Evidence in the report suggests that in some states with the longest experience with same-sex 'marriage,' teen suicide attempts in recent years may be rising, not falling.
Quite the contrary. The data show a decline in suicide attempts. They are not making this stuff up. Brown continues:
The report also contains troubling indications of bias. For example, the authors claim that, "Policies preventing same-sex marriage constitute a form of structural stigma because they label sexual minorities as different and deny them legal, financial, health and other benefits that are associated with marriage." This is obviously a political statement, not a statement of established scientific fact.
That seems quite factual to me. The old defense of marriage bans made gay relationships unequal to heterosexual relationships. The certainly denied gay couples, and their children, many benefits.
Even though this new report presents fake conclusions, it has been widely reported by the media and is another example of fake news. Unfortunately, we can anticipate that this report will become another weapon in the arsenal of LGBT extremists to wield against people who believe in traditional marriage, the truth of gender and the importance of protecting religious liberty.
The conclusions which are published to a highly respected and peer reviewed scholarly journal are “fake” because Brown doesn't like them. They conflict with his Catholic faith and further undermine any attempt to undo marriage equality. Again, there is nothing “fake” in accurately reporting the conclusions of research. The media didn't make this up. It's not like the spew accusing Hillary Clinton of being part of a pedophile ring.

We have no ax to grind with people who “believe in traditional marriage.” I believe in traditional marriage. This kind of framing was part of the losing argument in Obergefell. Believing in traditional marriage should not cause anyone to try to legally obstruct same-sex marriage because of religious dogma. The Catholic Church, for which NOM is a proxy, does not have the right to impose its doctrine on public policy. The Constitution says that they do not have that right.

Through all this noise an blather they have yet to demonstrate that same-sex marriage has any effect whatsoever on so-called traditional marriage. It is nothing more than a religious objection which is easily resolved: Don't enter into marriage with someone of the same sex. And get over the notion that religion gives you special rights to discriminate against people you disapprove of. Nondiscrimination laws do not require your approval.

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