With all the election year hoopla about the Republicans' "war on women," we haven't heard much lately about the related tendency to reject inconvenient science. For three decades, it has fueled the modern GOP's Model-T positions on women's health, gay civil rights and a host of economic and environmental issues. Recent remarks by Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin — that women's bodies can selectively zap a rapist's sperm — are just the tip of a melting iceberg that doubters on the right still refuse to touch. From climate change to AIDS prevention, from stem cell research to science education itself, the policies of the conservative right wing often fly in the face of the facts, the evidence and the overwhelming scientific consensus.
Take the latest same-sex parenting study trumpeted by social conservatives fighting marriage equality. It claims to show that kids raised by same-sex parents have bad outcomes as adults. Never mind that the new study, bought and paid for by two far-right political groups, was rigged — comparing kids raised by intact biological parents not to children raised by intact same-sex couples, but to kids of divorce and other unstable settings with a parent who at some point had a gay relationship. And never mind that multiple peer-reviewed studies over the past 25 years have shown that children reared by same-sex couples do just as well as those brought up by heterosexual moms and dads.
That hasn't stopped a Republican-controlled House legal team from using the bogus study in federal court to argue that the Defense of Marriage Act is a rational policy choice — just as surely as the Sun revolves around the Earth — commanding the federal government to ignore the reality of gay families, while proclaiming the supposed threat they pose to American culture.
It doesn't bode well for a future that promises some very real challenges — environmental, economic and more — to our civilization. We can't afford to wage war on the science that will help us meet those challenges.
With a Perspective, I'm Clyde Wadsworth.
Clyde Wadsworth is an attorney practicing business and civil rights law.