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Gay adoption.

Our voluntary bar was surprised that this professional publication recently printed an "advertisement" that was demeaning and derogatory to gay and lesbian members of the Bar and others.

It will serve no purpose to refute the "advertisement" point-by-point, which was allegedly about "gay adoption." However, we believe that it demonstrates and spreads great misunderstanding about the broader issues involving gays and lesbians, and the subset issue of parenting by gays and lesbians

A survey of studies on how children fared in same-sex parent homes was done by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2002 (Pediatrics, Vol. 109, No. 2 February 2002, p. 341-344). The conclusion by these experts was that the nature of the relationships and interactions inside a home had much more to do with the welfare of children than the structure of the home. Groups indicating similar viewpoints include the American Medical Association, American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, and the Child Welfare League of America.

Children can be raised properly or improperly in a heterosexual or homosexual family, so home studies are crucial in the adoption process. Each family could and should be judged on its own merits.

Larry D, Smith

President

Central Florida Gay & Lesbian Law Association

Mr. Metcalfe's advertisement in The Florida Bar News reminded me of freshman psychology. It is in that course one learns about cognitive biases and errors, mental phenomena which lead the mind to misjudge reality.

The first bias to come to mind after reading the advertisement was the availability heuristic. Politicians use this bias all the time to distort the truth. Whether by design or accident, Metcalfe appears to be doing the same thing. He emphasizes what is available to him--his friend's experiences--to judge the whole of homosexual parenting. Like the politician who points to the individual Joe the Plumber to weigh the needs of an entire country, Metcalfe emphasizes one person's experiences with a promiscuous father to condemn all homosexual parenting to be, as he put it, "a magnificently devastating problem for children."

The second bias is the confirmation bias. Under that bias, the mind tends to seek out and look at information in a way that supports a preconceived notion. Metcalfe's thoughts are a perfect example of this. He writes of no dissonance to his friend's experiences. He concludes from her account and from others anecdotally that homosexual parenting, not bad parenting in general, is the source of her and others' tragic upbringings.

The last error to which Metcalfe is victim focuses on the mind's tendency to look at behavior of a person rather than a situation. His friend's account tells me of a culture of decadence, where gays could not marry and were not given the support and aid of a community. Rather, it appears that she, and her father, may have been a product of a discarded part of society. I challenge Metcalfe to seek a disparaged area of the town where he lives, and begin to similarly make conclusions about the people who live there. He might find drug use, lack of education, violence, promiscuity, and yes, child neglect and abuse. Situation can play a part in actions, for gay and straight people alike.

Metcalfe's emphasis on anecdotes, rather than peer-reviewed studies, provides insight into his true thought process behind his views and his advertisement.

Edward Conrad-Waggoner

St. Helens, Oregon

I was shocked and disappointed that the Bar News approved publication of the disgusting gay-bashing ad that appeared in the July 15 edition. Your response published in The Watermark only further infl amed the issue, by hiding behind the First Amendment and completely ignoring the Bar News' published policy prohibiting acceptance of an ad containing "derogatory and demeaning" content. The policy also requires that ads comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct, which expressly provide that a lawyer shall not "disparage ... other lawyers on any basis, including ... sexual orientation."

I do understand some of the political pressure that the Bar may have felt to publish the views of a dissenting member of the Family Law Section on a controversial issue. However, I do not think that this excuses the disregard of the Bar News' published policies, which expressly forbid publication of this type of ad. This ad did not express any legal or policy "argument"--it was purely and simply an ad hominem attack on every gay citizen of this state. And it wasn't even the writer's own words--the whole ad was an alleged letter from a "friend" of his, who turns out to be a very well known Canadian anti-gay rights activist. However, this writer had previously expressed his own false stereotypical attacks against gay people in at least two previously published letters to the editor in the Bar News. I do not understand why it was deemed necessary to offer him the platform of the Bar News, for a third time, to "demean" and "derogate" and "disparage" the over one million gay citizens of this state, including many hundreds (or even thousands) who are members of The Florida Bar.

For whatever it's worth, I object.

Mary B. Meeks

Orlando

I respectfully suggest that those critical of the advertisement in the News on gay adoption miss the point.

John Stuart Mill wrote 150 years ago: "The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."--On Liberty

If a person feels that the case for allowing gay adoption can only survive by silencing critics, they have little confidence in their beliefs. For example, prior to reading the ad I thought that quality parenthood is independent from sexual orientation. Rampant promiscuity of any kind would provide an unstable home life, I felt, yet gays neither monopolize philandering nor are they inherently unfaithful.

After reading the ad, I still believe that a neglectful and abusive gay person does not deserve custody of any child, biological or otherwise. An example of what a destructive gay biological parent had done to their child does not support a gay person adoption ban any more than a black person adoption ban would be supported if Michael Jackson's allegations of abuse against Joe Jackson were true.

Aaron M. Clemens

West Palm Beach

I am appalled that the editorial staff would allow the so-called "advertisement," "What's so gay about it?" to run in the July 15 News. The "advertiser" relies on "facts" pulled from agenda-driven, conservative organizations such as the American College of Pediatricians (which also advocates against allowing women to have elective abortions), "WorldNet Daily" (whose latest journalistic "credits" include their continuing hard-hitting investigation into President Obama's birthplace), and the likes of peoplecanchange.com (who advocates something called "a journey of masculine connection" as a "cure" for homosexuality, ignoring the mainstream view of psychological professionals that homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness). What happened to "truth in advertising?"

I firmly believe that the best interests of the child should be the sole and driving force behind decisions made by those responsible for adoption placements. This may be with parents who happen to be homosexual. The "Advertising Policy" of the Florida Bar News states that it will not allow "derogatory or demeaning" advertisements. I am not sure how the editors could have concluded that the instant "advertisement" was not derogatory to a) homosexual parents or b) the broader gay community, particularly in light of the author's clear view that homosexuals are unfit parents because of their drug-riddled, sexually compulsive, STD-filled, pedophile lifestyles, and even declaring that allowing homosexuals to adopt would be "magnificently devastating." If this is not derogatory content, then I am not sure how low someone has to go to run afoul of the advertising policy. Allowing this blatantly offensive "advertisement" was a poor decision.

In the future, I urge the editors of this publication to recognize when something, such as Mr. Metcalfe's "advertisement," constitutes an obvious "editorial"--a statement advocating a particular point of view--rather than a true "advertisement"--a solicitation targeted to consumers of goods or services--and consider placing such pieces in an editorial section of the News, together with opposing views.

Edwin E. Hightower, Jr.,

St. Petersburg
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Smith, Larry D.; Conrad-Waggoner, Edward; Meeks, Mary B.; Clemens, Aaron M.; Hightower, Edwin E., Jr
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Aug 15, 2009
Words:1411
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