Friday, February 20, 2015

What I had to say to the State Affairs Commitee in Opposition to HB 2 "Add the Words"

HB 2 was an attempt to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Idaho's public accommodations anti-discrimination law.

No on HB 2

My name is Clayton Cramer.  I teach history at the College of Western Idaho.  My
specialization is Constitutional History.  My work has been cited in multiple decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and in many state supreme courts.

I am asking you to vote against HB 2 because it is an attempt to suppress what has been our country’s tradition of tolerance of different religious beliefs and diversity with respect to laws.
There is a longstanding American tradition of the Right to Conscience:   
·        Colonial and state governments often exempted members of pacifist denominations from the obligation to perform militia duty to prevent conflict between religious beliefs and societal duties.
         Conscientious Objector Status was developed during World War II for those who objected to war based on religious conviction.
A law applicable to everyone will often exempt those who consider it a violation of their religious beliefs:
·        Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) struck down a mandatory school attendance law because “respondents sincerely believed that high school attendance was contrary to the Amish religion and way of life, and that they would endanger their own salvation and that of their children by complying with the law.” The state’s laws infringed on a fundamental right “such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”
·        Old Order Amish and Mennonites among other denominations are exempt from the requirement to pay Social Security taxes (IRS Form 4029) again based on their deeply held belief that insurance is contrary to their religion.
·        Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2013) held that a law requiring a business to cover contraception under its insurance was contrary to the business owners’ principles because it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Adding sexual orientation to Idaho’s antidiscrimination law will infringe on the right of people with a moral objection to homosexuality to express that objection.  Cases around the country involving similar statutes have had the effect of driving Christians out of business because they were unwilling to compromise their religious beliefs.
         Elane Photography v.Willock (N.M. 2013) upheld a substantial fine against a wedding photographer who declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, contrary to her religious objections.
         Masterpiece Cakes in Colorado (2014)  stopped making wedding cakes after they were ordered to make same-sex wedding cakes. 
         (2012) The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights threatened the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (a United Methodist Church) with loss of its tax exempt status for refusing to book a same-sex wedding reception at its facilities.
         State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers (Benton Co. Sup. Ct. 2013) requiring a flower shop to supply flowers to a same-sex wedding.

At the core of “add the words” is the assumption that sexual orientation is something people are born with, like race, or sex.  There is a lot of evidence that this is not true.  Since the 1990s, multiple studies of behavioral and health problems in the gay community have found that non-heterosexuals are very disproportionately victims of childhood sexual abuse.
·        Roberts, Glymour, & Koenen, “Does Maltreatment in Childhood Affect Sexual Orientation in Adulthood?Arch Sex Behav. Feb 2013; 42(2): 161–171 “history of sexual abuse predicted increased prevalence of same-sex attraction by 2.0 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4, 2.5), any same-sex partners by 1.4 percentage points (95% CI = 1.0, 1.9), and same-sex identity by 0.7 percentage points (95% CI = 0.4, 0.9). Effects of sexual abuse on men’s sexual orientation were substantially larger than on women’s. Effects of non-sexual maltreatment were significant only for men and women’s sexual identity and women’s same-sex partners.”

·        Wilsnack, Kristianson, Hughes, & Benson, “CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE IN LESBIANS AND HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN,” Child Abuse Negl. Mar 2012; 36(3): 260–265:
¡  Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a strong predictor of adverse physical and mental health outcomes (Koenig, Doll, O’Leary, & Pequegnat, 2004; Lalor & McElvaney, 2010). Recent research has found that CSA is reported more frequently by lesbians than by heterosexual women (Austin et al., 2008;Balsam, Rothblum, & Beauchaine, 2005; Stoddard, Dibble, & Fineman, 2009). Possible reasons for lesbians’ higher CSA rates include childhood maltreatment (e.g., physical and sexual abuse) because of gender atypical behavior (Tjaden, Thoennes, & Allison, 1999), and involvement in behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, running away from home) that increase risks of sexual victimization, following family and peer rejection due to same-gender orientation (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009).”
¡  The study itself finds that lesbians were far more likely to be victimized as children than heterosexual women, and the severity of that abuse was far more profound.  The odds ratio in Table 1 [in the article] shows how much more common the abuse of the lesbians had been than the heterosexuals -- 3.07 times for any type of CSA, and the severity measures are in nearly every category more severe for the lesbians than for the heterosexual women.

·        Friedman, Marshal, Guadamuz, Wei, Wong, Sawewyc, & Stall, “A Meta-Analysis of Disparities in Childhood Sexual Abuse, Parental Physical Abuse, and Peer Victimization Among Sexual Minority and Sexual Nonminority Individuals,” Am J Public Health. Aug 2011; 101(8): 1481–1494: “Compared with sexual nonminority adolescents, sexual minority adolescents were on average 2.9 times more likely (odds ratio [OR]=3.94; 95% CI=3.45, 4.57) to report childhood sexual abuse. The mean of the absolute prevalence was 40.4% for bisexual females, 32.1%, for lesbian females, and 16.9% for heterosexual females. The mean of the absolute prevalence was 24.5% for bisexual males, 21.2% for gay males, and 4.64% for heterosexual males…The higher rates of abuse experienced by sexual minority youths may be one of the driving mechanisms underlying higher rates of mental health problems, substance use, risky sexual behavior, and HIV reported by sexual minority adults.”

·        Purcell, Patterson, & Spikes, “Childhood Sexual Abuse Experienced By Gay & Bisexual Men: Understanding the Disparities and Interventions to Help Eliminate Them,” in Woltski, Stall, & Valdiserri, Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States(2008): 

¡  How Prevalent Is CSA [Childhood Sexual Abuse] among MSM [men who have sex with men]?
“Relatively high rates of CSA have been reported in every sample of MSM that has been reported, with rates similar to rates of abuse for women.  Table 3-1 lists data from 17 different samples from the past 15 years that have reported CSA prevalence among MSM.  The range of prevalence rates is from 11.8% to 37.0%....  A national probability sample of almost 5000 men ages 15 to 44 collected in 2002 for the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) found that 14.9% of MSM reported coercive CSA before age 18.
“Gorey and Leslie estimated prevalence of CSA among the general male population at 5% to 8%....  In general, rates of CSA among general samples of men are less than 10%...”
With so much evidence that homosexuals are disproportionately victims of childhood sexual abuse, perhaps the high rates of suicide, substance abuse, and depression among gays are not because of discrimination, but because of the high rates of childhood sexual abuse?

This bill will not address the deeper roots of the problem and will force many people to violate their religious and moral convictions, which in turn, violates America’s long-standing tradition to the right of conscience. 

Thank you.

Clayton Cramer


  1. Thank you! I've been looking for some good talking points to refute the arguments for Add the Words, and this is the first structured, thorough discussion I've found.

  2. Alas, facts don't much matter as long as Republicans see gay people as an important constituency.

  3. I must have missed something in the news because outside of Batt and maybe that former Senator (who as far as I know has said nothing, but might be in the closet) is there really that many Republicans in Idaho saying they support this bill?

    Now have I heard talk about some sort of compromise that would give some protections but not all that is being demanded. For example, a way to protect businesses from being forced to bake cakes or whatever. Or is that what you mean?

    Isn't this all really going to come down to what happens this summer when the Supreme Court rules on marriage? If they say gays can marry then I assume the flood gates open for these rights laws--i.e. they just sue to get them.

    Short of fire-and-brimstone or a civil war I don't see how this will be stopped in the end--it may not happen this year but the militants seem to be winning the war of getting the under 40 crowd to accept it and as us old white guys die off these kids that believe it is ok will be the only ones left....

    Looks like the war has been lost or is close to ending. Awaiting that summer ruling.

  4. Republicans Are reluctant to oppose such laws because they don't know how to oppose them without sounding medieval.