Hi, Im David Blankenhorn. According to a federal judge, my opinions are unreliable, tautological, and entitled to essentially no weight.
  • "Hi, I'm David Blankenhorn. According to a federal judge, my opinions are unreliable, tautological, and entitled to essentially no weight."
First of all, what a name: Blankenhorn. Was Nathaniel Hawthorne in charge of naming him? What sounds like emptiness plus amplification? Blankenhorn! And was Hawthorne also in charge of making him Protect Marriage's final witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the better to dramatize a chilling and dramatic intellectual cataclysm? And who—other than Hawthorne—ever could have dreamed up that detail about the Blankenhorn's only peer-reviewed article in his entire academic career being "a thesis on a labor dispute between cabinetmaker unions in Britain"? From the reports, it sounds like David Boies, American folk hero, was merciless.

I have been taking my sweet time reading Walker's decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger—other blogs have already pulled out some of the tastiest lines—and it's gratifying for all kinds of reasons. But the dressing down of David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, has to be one of the most thorough and intensely satisfying dressings down of a blowhard I've ever read. (Ample evidence of blowhardiness here; I dare you to make it through even one of those videos.)

In the section of Judge Walker's ruling called CREDIBILITY DETERMINATIONS, the section on Blankenhorn starts on page 37 and goes to page 49. Here's just some of it (citations omitted):

Blankenhorn relied on the quotations of others to define marriage and provided no explanation of the meaning of the passages he cited or their sources. Blankenhorn’s mere recitation of text in evidence does not assist the court in understanding the evidence... Blankenhorn testified that his research has led him to conclude there are three universal rules that govern marriage: (1) the rule of opposites (the “man/woman” rule); (2) the rule of two; and (3) the rule of sex. Blankenhorn explained that there are “no or almost no exceptions” to the rule of opposites, despite some instances of ritualized same-sex relationships in some cultures. Blankenhorn explained that despite the widespread practice of polygamy across many cultures, the rule of two is rarely violated, because even within a polygamous marriage, “each marriage is separate.” (“Q: Is it your view that that man who has married one wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and then another wife, and now has five wives, and they are all his wives at the same time, that that marriage is consistent with your rule of two? * * * A: I concur with Bronislaw Malinowski, and others, who say that that is consistent with the two rule of marriage.”).

Blankenhorn’s... opinion is that recognizing same-sex marriage will lead to the deinstitutionalization of marriage. Blankenhorn described deinstitutionalization as a process through which previously stable patterns and rules forming an institution (like marriage) slowly erode or change. Blankenhorn identified several manifestations of deinstitutionalization: out-of-wedlock childbearing, rising divorce rates, the rise of non-marital cohabitation, increasing use of assistive reproductive technologies and marriage for same-sex couples. To the extent Blankenhorn believes that same-sex marriage is both a cause and a symptom of deinstitutionalization, his opinion is tautological. Moreover, no credible evidence supports Blankenhorn’s conclusion that same-sex marriage could lead to the other manifestations of deinstitutionalization...

Blankenhorn’s book, The Future of Marriage, lists numerous consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry, some of which are the manifestations of deinstitutionalization listed above. Blankenhorn explained that the list of consequences arose from a group thought experiment in which an idea was written down if someone suggested it. Blankenhorn’s group thought experiment began with the untested assumption that “gay marriage, like almost any major social change, would be likely to generate a diverse range of consequences.” The group failed to consider that recognizing the marriage of same-sex couples might lead only to minimal, if any, social consequences.

Blankenhorn’s concern that same-sex marriage poses a threat to the institution of marriage is further undermined by his testimony that same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage operate almost identically. During cross-examination, Blankenhorn was shown a report produced by his Institute in 2000 explaining the six dimensions of marriage: (1) legal contract; (2) financial partnership; (3) sacred promise; (4) sexual union; (5) personal bond; and (6) family-making bond. Blankenhorn agreed that same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages would be identical across these six dimensions. When referring to the sixth dimension, a family-making bond, Blankenhorn agreed that same-sex couples could “raise” children.

Blankenhorn gave absolutely no explanation why manifestations of the deinstitutionalization of marriage would be exacerbated (and not, for example, ameliorated) by the presence of marriage for same-sex couples. His opinion lacks reliability, as there is simply too great an analytical gap between the data and the opinion Blankenhorn proffered.

Blankenhorn was unwilling to answer many questions directly on cross-examination and was defensive in his answers. Moreover, much of his testimony contradicted his opinions. Blankenhorn testified on cross-examination that studies show children of adoptive parents do as well or better than children of biological parents. Blankenhorn agreed that children raised by same-sex couples would benefit if their parents were permitted to marry. Blankenhorn also testified he wrote and agrees with the statement “I believe that today the principle of equal human dignity must apply to gay and lesbian persons. In that sense, insofar as we are a nation founded on this principle, we would be more American on the day we permitted same- sex marriage than we were the day before.”

Blankenhorn stated he opposes marriage for same-sex couples because it will weaken the institution of marriage, despite his recognition that at least thirteen positive consequences would flow from state recognition of marriage for same-sex couples, including: (1) by increasing the number of married couples who might be interested in adoption and foster care, same-sex marriage might well lead to fewer children growing up in state institutions and more children growing up in loving adoptive and foster families; and (2) same-sex marriage would signify greater social acceptance of homosexual love and the worth and validity of same-sex intimate relationships.

Blankenhorn’s opinions are not supported by reliable evidence or methodology and Blankenhorn failed to consider evidence contrary to his view in presenting his testimony. The court therefore finds the opinions of Blankenhorn to be unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.

You can read the testimony of Blankenhorn's that led the judge to say all this deflating stuff about Blankenhorn's mind here and here.