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3 years after the marriage equality ruling, a look back at 8 anti-equality predictions.

In the run up to the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality ruling in 2015, some opponents of marriage equality voiced big concerns.

These concerns, they'd be the first to tell you, weren't rooted in hatred or bigotry. Of course not. Opponents were simply worried about what marriage equality could lead to in the future. If this were allowed, what would come next? Now that it's been 1,096 days (but who's counting, really?) since the court ruled, we're checking in on some of the doubters to see how many of their predictions came true.

Here are eight anti-equality arguments, fact-checked.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

1. "Marriage equality will lead to legal bestiality."

This was a really common argument made by anti-equality pundits, politicians, and religious leaders leading up to and after the Supreme Court's decision.

"Watch what happens," warned Pat Robertson during a July 2015 episode of "The 700 Club." "Love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted."

Appearing on "The Glenn Beck Show," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) mused over a similar question. "If we have no laws on this, people take it to one extension further — does it have to be humans? You know?" Oh, we know, senator.

Verdict: FALSE.

2. "Marriage equality will lead to legal polygamy."

Another common argument against the court's ruling was the fear that it would result in people having five or six spouses and eroding the institution beyond recognition.

In 2006, Charles Krauthammer argued that because gay people believe the definition of marriage being one man and one woman is discriminatory, that it'd only be fair to consider "the number restriction ... similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible."

Just months after the Supreme Court's ruling, Ben Carson, a major opponent of marriage equality, said that now that the court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, polygamy was "the natural next question."

Spoiler: It's not.

Verdict: FALSE.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

3. "Marriage equality will lead to child marriages."

The talking point has its roots in anti-gay fear-mongering centered on the idea that gay men will try to "recruit" children or that they have a predisposition towards pedophilia. Obviously, none of that is true; it's just a way to scare people into seeing LGBTQ people as sexual deviants.

CNN unearthed a video of Sam Clovis, President Trump's former nominee for the role of chief scientist (despite no actual history working in science) at the USDA, offering what he believes are "logical" things to worry about if and when same-sex marriage were to become legal: "If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? We're not thinking the consequences of these decisions through."

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage posed similar concerns, just as unfounded. "Will pedophiles become 'minor-attracted persons' in our culture?" he asked in a 2011 blog post. "Will courts which endorse orientation as a protected class decide down the road that therefore laws which discriminate against 'minor-attracted persons' must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest?"

Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed in 2013 that the push for marriage equality was part of the LGBTQ community's secret plot to make pedophilia OK. "They want us to all think that pedophilia is just another sexual orientation," he said, baselessly. "You know who's gonna fall right in line is college kids, just like they have on gay marriage, just like they do on all other revolutionary social issues."

While no, there hasn't been some LGBTQ community push for the legalization of pedophilia, it is worth nothing that in dozens of U.S. states itis legal for someone under the age of 18 to marry an adult — and has been for a long time. Opponents of measures to raise the minimum marriage age are not members of the LGBTQ community, but often, social conservatives.

Verdict: FALSE.

4. "Marriage equality will lead to the outright criminalization of Christianity."

"Christian convictions are under attack as never before," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in 2015. "Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) lamented the fact that people might judge others who think gay people shouldn't be allowed to get married.

"We've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater," he said in a 2015 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "So what's the next step after that? After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech, and there's a real and present danger."

Both men will be relieved to find out that no one has been jailed for believing in the Christian God or for praying the rosary.

Verdict: FALSE.

[rebelmouse-image 19397674 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Anti-equality protestors have not been thrown in jail for their religious beliefs, for reading the Bible, or for calling gay people "an abomination." All of that remains perfectly legal. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images." expand=1]Anti-equality protestors have not been thrown in jail for their religious beliefs, for reading the Bible, or for calling gay people "an abomination." All of that remains perfectly legal. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images.

5. "Marriage equality will lead to more abortion."

This was a bizarre notion put out into the world by Gene Schaerr at the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal blog. Presumably meant to target people who don't see the harm in marriage equality but oppose abortion, Schaerr cobbled together a few stats and made some ... shall we say ... creative connections.

Schaerr argued in 2015 that some would see marriage equality as devaluing heterosexual marriages and some straight couples would opt against getting married at all. "A reduction in the opposite-sex marriage rate means an increase in the percentage of women who are unmarried and who, according to all available data, have much higher abortion rates than married women," he wrote. "And based on past experience, institutionalizing same-sex marriage poses an enormous risk of reduced opposite-sex marriage rates."

His conclusion: an additional 900,000 abortions over a 30-year span. As a number of news outlets pointed out at the time, this number seems to have been pulled from thin air.

The truth is that abortion rates have been decreasing over the past several decades, largely as the result of comprehensive sex education programs and increased access to contraception. If anything will spike the number of abortions, it's likely to be proposals to embrace so-called abstinence-only education and attempts to repeal the health care law.

Verdict: FALSE.

6. "Marriage equality will lead to mass killings."

This is another head-scratcher from Ben Carson. During a 2016 speech, Carson warned that marriage equality would lead to "mass killings," adding that defining marriage as being between one man and one woman is all that "stands between peace and utter chaos."

For Carson, this seems to come down to a belief that without the Bible, there'd be no incentive not to murder every person you come in contact with. What starts with marriage turns into genocide, apparently.

"Why must they change [marriage]? I believe the reason is, if you can change the word of God in one area, then you can change it in every area," he said. "It's the camel's nose under the tent, and it will just be an avalanche of one thing after the other. We won't have anything that we can use as our reference point because we will have thrown out God's word. It'll be every man for himself, every man deciding for himself what is right and what is wrong, and that can't possibly lead to a good place."

Verdict: FALSE.

7. "Marriage equality will lead to the downfall of democracy."

This example comes from former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges itself. In it, he lamented the fact that rather than putting the question of whether non-heterosexual people should be allowed to marry up to a public vote, the Supreme Court was stepping into a situation in which it had no business. "I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy," he wrote.

He later added that "this practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."

There's a bit of irony in Scalia having argued that it's the marriage ruling that would undercut democracy when just two years earlier he joined a 5-4 majority in striking down a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. As a result, countless voters have become disenfranchised, effectively blocked out of the democratic process altogether.

Verdict: FALSE.

On the night of June 26, 2015, the White House was lit up in rainbow-colored lights to mark the historic occasion. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

8. "Marriage equality will lead to the downfall of society."

By the mid-2000s, it had started to become clear that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might not be as constitutionally sound as opponents of marriage equality would've liked. It was around then that they began trying to pass a bill called the "Marriage Protection Act," which would have amended the judiciary code to essentially say that federal courts weren't allowed to rule on DOMA at all.

In 2006, then-Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) laid out his argument in favor of the bill, warning of the dire consequences that could come with marriage equality.

"I believe that if someone chooses another lifestyle than I have chosen, that that is their right in a free society," he said, paying lip service to LGBTQ people's right to exist. "But tolerance does not require that we permit our courts to redefine an institution upon which our society depends. Marriage matters, according to the researchers. Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found that throughout history, societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family."

The sociologist Pence mentioned, Pitirim Sorokin, published the opinion being referenced in his 1937 book, "Social and Cultural Dynamics." It was controversial, to say the least. Citing Sorokin — and later saying "marriage should be protected because it wasn't our idea," pointing to the institution's supposed creation by a higher power — was a clever way for Pence to argue that his views that some people should have more rights than others was based in concern for society as opposed to bigotry.

Pence will certainly be happy to learn that society still exists, and if there is some larger threat to it, the origin likely has its roots in the current occupant of the Oval Office, not a happily married lesbian couple.

Verdict: FALSE.

Conclusion: Turns out that all the stuff equality advocates said was fear-mongering was, well, fear-mongering.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't appear that any of the people who offered up these concerns about the marriage equality ruling have walked back these statements. I mean, if you're going to put an entire group on the hook for the downfall of civilization or the coming wave of fashionable bestiality, it'd be nice if you could pop in to say "my bad" when it doesn't happen.

For those of you wondering what's next, stop by our marriage equality #UpChat on Twitter on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 1p.m. ET.

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Joy

Pet cockatiel is obsessed with singing 'September' by Earth, Wind and Fire

Kiki remembers the 21st night of September ALL. THE. TIME. and it's actually quite impressive.

Representative hoto by Saqib Iqbal Digital on Unsplash

Apparently, "September" is all the rage with cockatiels.

“Do you remember…the 21st night of September?” has been one of the most iconic song openings of the past 45 years, as the R&B hit by Earth, Wind and Fire perpetually serves as a catchy favorite for dance clubs, movie scenes and TikTok clips alike.

However, "September" has also gained wild popularity among an unlikely group—pet cockatiels.


One cockatiel in particular has taken a shining to the song to the point of obsession, to the combined delight and chagrin of his owner. You see, Kiki doesn’t just like listening to the song, he sings and dances to it. Loudly. Over and over. At uncomfortable hours of the morning.

Kiki’s owner has shared multiple examples of her pet bird reveling in his favorite song, and it’s hilarious every time.

Watch:

@kiki.tiel

Send help plz wheres the off button on parrot #fyp #foryou #bird #cockatiel #parrotsoftiktok #birdsoftiktok

"Kiki…it's 7 o'clock in the morning…" Yeah, Kiki does not care. Kiki is feelin' the groove.

This isn't just a one-off and it's also not just a random song. Here we can see that Kiki recognizes it and sings it when his owner plays it. (Just after pooing on her leg—the reality of having a bird, in case these videos make you want one).

@kiki.tiel

Babywipes handy at all hours 🫡 #bird #cockatiel #fyp #foryou #september #parrot

But Kiki doesn't even need anyone else around in order to sing his favorite song. Here he is singing and dancing all by himself when his owner left the room and left her camera running to see what he would do.

@kiki.tiel

Partying without me :( #cockatielsoftiktok #birds #fyp #for you

As cute and hilarious as this is, it surely gets old after a while, right? It's one thing to watch in a video—it's got to be entirely another to hear it all the time at home.

It's also not just a Kiki quirk. Apparently, "September" is a "thing" among cockatiels. Other cockatiels have been known to love it and sing it, though not quite as well as Kiki does.

Someone on Reddit asked why so many cockatiels love the song—one person even said it was basically the cockatiel national anthem at this point. No one knows exactly why, but this explanation by Reddit user nattiecakes is as good an explanation as any:

"Yeah, cockatiels genuinely like the song in a way they don’t universally take to many other songs. My cockatiel is 17 and early in life basically seemed to max out his harddrive space learning a little bit of La Cucaracha, The Flintstones theme, the phrase 'pretty bird,' and this horrible alarm clock sound that is similar to the hungry baby cockatiel sound. We thought we could not get him to learn anything else because they do have some limits.

Then 'September' came. Every cockatiel loved it. We decided to see if our cockatiel loved it.

I sh*t y’all not, within a DAY he whistled the first three notes, which is really all that matters. He hasn’t been able to learn more, but he loves it.

Now our African grey whistles it to him constantly. He used to reliably whistle La Cucaracha to our cockatiel when our cockatiel would get angry and upset, and our cockatiel would start singing instead and forget he’d been upset. But almost immediately our grey switched to using 'September' 90% of the time. Like, it’s so plain even to our grey that 'September' is the song to unlock a cockatiel’s better nature. I think the grey likes it a lot too, but he has many other songs he likes better.

As for why cockatiels like this song so much… all I can guess is it really resonates with their cheery vibe. I think the inside of a cockatiel’s mind is usually like a disco."

Rock on, Kiki. Just maybe not so early in the morning.

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.