Controversial anti-gay activist Dr. George Rekers, who is now embroiled in his own gay controversy after admitting to hiring a gay male prostitute to carry his bags on a European trip, was paid by a team of lawyers headed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in a court case defending Florida’s ban on gays adopting children.
Florida is the only state that bans all gays and lesbians from adopting children, though the ACLU is attempting to overturn the law.
Attorneys for McCollum paid Rekers at least $60,900 and perhaps as much as $87,000 for expert testimony in the appeal of the case. But in his testimony, Rekers claimed gays make inferior and even dangerous parents and that adopted kids living in gay households, even after 10 years, would be better off removed from the home and placed with straight parents.
Here are some excerpts from that cross-examination by ACLU of New York's James Esseks with Rekers on the stand:
Q. You have been retained as an expert witness for the State, correct?
Q. Before agreeing to be retained by the State, you insisted on getting a retainer, an advance payment from the state. Is that correct?
Q. What was the amount of that advance payment?
Q. Do you intend to bill the State for more funds, in addition to that amount?
The Court: Was it 16 or 60?
Ms. Bass: $60,900.
The Witness: Right, yeah, based on $300 an hour.
A source in the Department of Children and Family Services said Rekers’ compensation went up to $87,000.
Here is part of what the state got for all that money:
Q. Well, Dr. Rekers, earlier you testified that Native-Americans have a higher rate of alcohol abuse than the general population does, right?
Q. It’s a very significantly elevated rate of alcohol abuse, I mean compared to the general population?
Q. So if Native-Americans have significantly higher rates of alcohol abuse, and if they also have significantly higher rates of psychiatric disorders, and if they also have higher rates of relationship instability, is that enough for you to say that all of a sudden they should be categorically excluded?
The Court: I think you can add violence to that, as well.
The Witness: Yeah, violence, yeah.
Q. And violence, as well.
A. Yeah, if it turned out that a majority of the individuals in the Native-American population, that a majority of them were high risk for one of these things happening, as a lifetime prevalence, there could be a parallel rationale for excluding them, as adoptive parents, because it would be not only them, they would tend to hang around each other. So the children would be around a lot of other Native-Americans, who are doing the same sorts of things, you know.
So it would be a high risk, and, in fact, since you can’t perfectly predict human behavior, the best you can do and the best the State can do is to look at risk levels, and if a particular kind of household poses multiple high risks for condition that would be detrimental for children, then that would be a rationale for excluding that group.
Miami-Dade County Judge Cindy Lederman later dismissed Rekers’ testimony calling it “far from neutral and unbiased.” She said “Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions” and so Lederman could “not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.”
The ACLU, which is representing gay adoptive father Martin Gill, was stunned to hear Rekers’ paid expert testimony. Spokesman Brandon Hensler admitted to being amused by Rekers’ current gay prostitute controversy. And he further questions why Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum would hire Rekers as an expert witness.
"I can't know for sure what Bill McCollum knew or didn't know,” said Hensler. “But in the end it is his responsibility. He is the Attorney General and it is the Attorney General who is appealing this case."
A ruling is expected any day.
Meanwhile, Rekers is disputing but not denying a New Times article that he hired a 20-year-old male prostitute to accompany him on a trip to Europe. Rekers was photographed carting the man's bags through Miami International Airport this week after the two returned from the trip.
On a statement on his blog, written in the third person, Rekers denied having any sexual involvement with the younger man.
"Dr. Rekers did not even find out about his travel assistant's internet advertisements offering prostitution activity until after the trip was in progress," he wrote.
Leaders of two conservative groups Rekers helped run are now distancing themselves from him. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which describes itself as “a professional scientific organization dedicated to assisting individuals dealing with unwanted homosexual attractions,” says “we extend our sympathies.
“NARTH takes seriously the accusations that have been made, and we are currently attempting to understand the details behind these press reports.”
The Family Research Council, which Rekers claims he helped found, dismissed Rekers as an early adviser of the organization.
Published at 7:30 AM EDT on May 7, 2010