An amendment to the Texas-state constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions is coming up for vote in a couple weeks, and the Texas Observer has an article featuring interviews with a number of self-described fundamentalists who support the ban.
Here's what Mary Ann Markarian—an ordained minister, graduate of Oral Roberts University, and a Christian performer often featured on the Trinity Broadcasting Network—had to say on the issue:
The median age of homosexual men dying with AIDS is thirty-nine years old; that's wrong, not natural. The median age of all other homosexual men dying from other causes is forty-two. Do you consider forty-two young? I consider it extremely young since I'm one year away from it. The median age of death for lesbians is forty-five years old—of lesbians. That compares to seventy-five years old for heterosexual men and seventy-nine for heterosexual women. Only one percent of homosexuals die of old age; only three percent ever live to age fifty-five. Think about it, and then tell me that God doesn't have some problem with this whole thing—that God isn't speaking. It's unnecessary to put my name in the paper—you can just say that "God said," and here's the statistics.
Well, I imagine if God were speaking, he wouldn't quote a study based on a fatally flawed methodology. As the Observer article mentions, Markarian's stats are based upon a study by Paul Cameron, the head of a right-wing think-tank and a quack who was kicked out of the American Psychological Association for violations of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and formally condemned by a resolution of the American Sociological Association for his "consistent misrepresentation of sociological research".
Dr Gregory Herek of UC Davis has a detailed critique of how the study that provided Markarian's stats was deeply flawed, but this is the gist of it: Cameron used as his sample, in order to determine the mean life expectancy of homosexuals, obituaries from gay-community publications.
It doesn't take a genius to see how this could go badly wrong: The deaths of younger homosexual men and women, more likely than the older generation to be open about their homosexuality and have friends or family willing to publicly declare their homosexuality by publishing their obituaries in gay-community publications, would inevitably be more strongly represented in the sample than those of older homosexual men and women, thus the mean age of death is grossly overinflated.
It's inconceivable to me that Cameron couldn't see the simple flaw behind his method, but these kind of wrong-headed stats are viral. People repeat them uncritically, and soon they acquire the weight of unquestionable fact. Hell, Markarian's so convinced she's willing to grant them the status of divine dictum, and wield them as a weapon to forever curtail the rights of an already embattled minority population.
Then again, when you begin with an unquestioned and uncritical allegiance to a flawed compendium of rumors and pre-scientific half-truths, as fundamentalists do, I imagine you're liable to swallow just about anything ...
Originally posted to [Subject to Change without Notice].