Friday, May 14, 2010

The lucrative business of George Rekers

The recent revelation that Dr George Rekers, reliably anti-gay "expert", travels with a rentboy, has led to closer examination of Rekers' activities. What a comfortable scam he has established for himself.

Trading on his education (he's a retired professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina), Rekers claims to be an expert in child psychiatry. He is a co-founder of the Family Research Council and a member of NARTH, a group promoting the disproven "treatment" called "reparative therapy". Both those groups have erased his name from their websites in the wake of the current scandal.

He founded the American College of Pediatrics, a small group of anti-gay activists that deliberately mis-states the facts about homosexuality. (It is not to be confused with the actual American Academy of Pediatrics, which like all other mainstream medical associations has depathologized homosexuality, and recognizes being gay as a normal human variant).

But the most interesting aspect of Rekers' career is being a witness-for-hire in cases that attack GLBT rights. Turns out that he was hired by the state of Florida as an expert witness during their recent trial about gay adoption. Initial reports were that this cost the state about $60,000 but more recent reports indicate that Rekers was paid on the order of $120,000, at the behest of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

(Though you have to wonder why, with that much money in the bank, Rekers couldn't afford a better room for his rentboy, who commented that their accommodations were far from deluxe and that their hotel in London was "like a crappy Days Inn or something." )

In fact, McCollum insisted the state hire Rekers despite the expense. It might not have been such a good deal, however, because the judge dismissed Rekers' testimony as inaccurate and clearly biased:
Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.
PDF source.
Similar results came from a trial in Arkansas a few years ago.

This expensive debacle might cause McCollum a little trouble in his bid for governor. As Steve Benen comments in the Washington Monthly,
Indeed, the heart of the controversy here is McCollum's bizarre judgment and questionable use of taxpayer money. Rekers was, in effect, part of a sad, right-wing scheme -- collecting big checks to say crazy things in court. But the real question is why McCollum personally intervened to deliver Rekers a lucrative, publicly-financed, intolerant payday.
Still, the bigotry in Florida is probably strong enough to survive.

It's quite a deal, don't you think? Travel the country spouting pseudo-scientific bigotry as a professional witness for hire. Is he a really cynical scam artist? Or does he really believe his lies justify the payment?

Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald says,
[T}here is a moral crime here. We are, after all, talking about men in positions of authority and reach, men who could make laws and influence public perception and who used that power against their own.....That's more than hypocrisy, more even than self-loathing. It is a betrayal of one's own, a sellout of the most vulnerable. And what's sad is not just that a George Rekers would do this, but that ours is a culture that would encourage and reward such duplicity in the first place.

So, think about it. Rekers appears to be a deeply closeted gay man who has made a lot of money out of hurting GLBT people. His recent indiscretion with a male prostitute has led to his public shaming. He's been dismissed from the cozy relationship with the prominent anti-gay organizations and he has very likely lost his comfortable livelihood as a professional witness.

Payback's a bitch.

Update: Here's Keith Olbermann on Rekers:

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1 comment:

James said...

You stay in crappy hotels so no one will see you. I mean, do you cheat on you wife and take a room at the Madison on 5th Ave in NY? Or some seedy little motel on 952 Ave?