When it comes to honesty and accuracy, we have learned not to expect much of either from David Barton, just as we have learned that he is not going to stop repeating something just because it is demonstrably false. And that trend continues as, on his radio program today, Barton misrepresented a ten year old study to prove that “homosexual marriage is not a good deal for a country”:
I don’t need religion or a Bible to prove that homosexual marriage is not a good deal for a country. We have now twelve nations who have adopted homosexual marriage; they have stats.
Jesus did give us a good admonition in Matthew 7 that you can judge a tree by its fruits, so if I take the nations that have homosexual marriage and I look at them, I say okay in those nations where you have homosexuals allowed to marry, only two percent of homosexuals do marry. So even though they want homosexual marriage, 98% of homosexuals don’t marry when they get it and the average homosexual marriage lasts eighteen months and involves eight extra-marital partners.
Now by what stretch of the imagination would you consider that to be a marriage?
Predictably, nothing Barton said was true. As Jim Burroway pointed out several years ago, this talking point about gay marriages lasting only a year and a half and including multiple partners has been cited incessantly by anti-gay activists despite the fact that the study they are supposedly citing said nothing of the sort.
In fact, the study focused on the transmission of HIV infections among gay men in Amsterdam and was completed years before gay marriage even became legal, so it literally has nothing to do with gay marriage whatsoever, as Burroway diligently explained:
Claim #1: The study was of homosexual relationships between married homosexual men.
This study was not about homosexual relationships. The authors are mostly doctors and epidemiologists – they study how diseases are passed along from one person to the next. Their research article presented a mathematical model that was intended to predict how HIV and AIDS would spread among gay men. If a couple is monogamous, then by definition they would not be contributing to the spread of HIV and AIDS. Monogamous couples were simply irrelevant to the study, which is why they were explicitly excluded.
Claim #2: Homosexual relationships last for an average of only one and a half years, making same-sex marriages short-lived.
The first problem we have here is that everyone over the age of thirty was excluded from the study. By keeping the age of the sample population artificially low, this artificially limits the length of time any of them could have been in a “steady relationship”. You’re certainly not going to find any twenty-nine-year-olds in thirty-year relationships — or even fifteen-year ones.
But that’s not the only problem. The study didn’t ask if any of the participants were married because they couldn’t marry. Marriage equality didn’t arrive in the Netherlands until April 2001, two years after the study ended. Instead the participants were simply asked if they had a “steady relationship” with no further guidance on what that means. People dating for a few weeks could consider themselves in a “steady relationship” – which would be a far cry from full-fledged marriage.
This is an important pont. If legally recognized marriage had been an option for these couples (and if the researchers had been interested in studying only married gay men), they would have had a consistent standard for excluding those couples who were merely dating, or even those who were living together but who didn’t want to get married. That would have been the only valid way to compared married gay couples to married straight ones. You would have weeded out those who don’t want to marry, or who weren’t at that stage in their relationships where they felt ready to be married. After all, not all straight couples in “serous relationships” are married. By including couples in short-term relationships as well as those who don’t want to be married, the average length of relationships is significantly lowered.
And of course, monogamous couples were excluded from the study altogether. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to assume that non-monogamous relationships are less likely to be as stable as monogamous ones. By excluding monogamous couples, the average is likely reduced even more.
To make a valid comparison to straight couples, we would need to compare this group of gay men to married and unmarried urban straight couples – all under thirty and all non-monogamous. This didn’t happen.
Claim #3: Men in homosexual relationships on average have eight partners a year outside those relationships.
The authors quoted that average in their study, but they never tried to claim that it was true for gay men as a whole. Because the study excluded monogamous couples, the stated average would naturally be excessively high. What’s more, we don’t know how much this average was skewed because we don’t know how many monogamous couples were excluded.
The only thing we can conclude from this study is that when people decide to be non-monogamous, they decide to be really non-monogamous.
As we have seen, the “Dutch study” claims made by anti-gay activists are seriously distorted. Like most of their claims about gay men’s sexual behavior, anti-gay activists rely on studies that are not representative of the general population. What’s worse, they especially rely on studies culled from STD clinics for most of their claims. And by not telling you the nature of these studies or their participants, they are engaging in a deliberately deceptive practice. And they get by with it because they assume you won’t read these studies yourself, which is a safe assumption for most readers. After all, who has the time to go to a medical library to look up these studies in arcane professional journals?
This is the second time in recent weeks that we have heard Barton make these same phony claims and it presumably won’t be the last, since Barton is not the sort who lets lack of truth stop him from spreading his propaganda.