Explaining Why Rekers Matters

Beyond the obvious schadenfreude and Jerry Springer-quality of the story, I can’t say that I’ve found much of the coverage of the George A. Rekers sex scandal all that interesting or worthwhile . . . until today.

In the NYT, we get a story explaining the role Rekers played as an expert witness in trials involving gay adoption and gay parental rights and what the scandal says about his testimony.

Regardless of what occurred in Europe, the trip could affect cases in the United States. Dr. Rekers’ involvement, for example, has been critical in a suit challenging a Florida law banning adoption by gay parents. His testimony was a major part of Attorney General Bill McCollum’s defense of the statute, for which the state paid Dr. Rekers $120,000.

Mr. McCollum has distanced himself from Dr. Rekers. “It is safe to say that if this case moves beyond this stage, Mr. Rekers will have no further involvement in the case,” said Ryan Wiggins, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCollum. “We will certainly not be recommending him in the future.”

In the November 2008 decision declaring the Florida gay adoption law unconstitutional, Judge Cindy Lederman of Miami-Dade Circuit Court wrote that Dr. Rekers was “motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science,” and not “credible.” Mr. McCollum, a Republican who is running for governor, has appealed that decision. In papers filed well before the scandal broke, he denounced the court’s “wholesale disregard” of testimony by Dr. Rekers and another expert, calling the decision “arbitrary,” stressing Dr. Rekers’ qualifications and stating that “the trial court entirely discredited him based on his religion.”

To Professor Gillers, Mr. McCollum is now obligated both as a lawyer and as a public official to alert the appellate court. “It is not enough for the attorney general simply to refrain from relying on the testimony in his brief and argument,” he said. “He has an affirmative duty to speak up.”

The story kind of falls apart after that, feeling a little like the reporter was trying to fit in all the details, including a quote from Ted Haggard which doesn’t really have anything to do with Rekers’ role in lawsuits. Still, the story does a nice job of highlighting why the scandal matters on a larger level.

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