Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum admitted this week that he personally pushed his state’s Department of Children and Families to pay anti-gay “psychologist” George Alan Rekers for “expert testimony” in a case against Florida’s gay adoption ban. Rekers, who testified that gays aren’t stable enough to adopt, went home with $120,000. This is a perversion of justice.
McCollum confessed he spearheaded the campaign to call Rekers to the witness stand in the 2008 case, in which a gay couple sued the state for the right to adopt. McCollum convinced the DCF that they needed Rekers in addition to their sole witness, a Dr. Walter Schumm. “Dr. Schumm is a good expert, but his areas of expertise are different from Dr. Rekers,” wrote McCollum. “Our attorneys handling this case have searched long and hard for other expert witnesses with comparable expertise to Dr. Rekers and have been unable to identify any who would be available for this case.” Now that Rekers has been revealed as a rentboy-hiring hypocrite, McCollum’s saying he regrets the decision.
“We’ve been defending the constitutionality of the state law and we’ve been representing the Department of Children and Families, who hired him and paid him and needed expert witnesses and he was available and credentialed,” McCollum said to the Florida Tribune. “I wouldn’t do it again if I knew what I knew today but I didn’t know that then and neither did anybody else.” I wonder, though, whether Rekers, gay scandal aside, should have been paid at all.
Rekers wasn’t paid for his testimony, so to speak, but for his time and alleged knowledge set. As McCollum pointed out, Rekers was considered an “expert” in his field, despite the fact that his field’s filled with bullshit: he testified that gay people are incapable of raising stable children because we’re depressed drug addicts, more of less. The judge ended up ruling that the state’s ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional. He also described Rekers’ testimony as “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.”
McCollum at the time implied that the judge has used Rekers’ religious background to dismiss his testimony, and griped, “Instead of dispassionately considering evidence and the merits of these experts’ research-backed opinions… the trial court repudiated [Rekers’ and others’] entire testimony. The court’s wholesale disregard is arbitrary.” And McCollum’s decision to call Rekers in the first place was dangerous.
States have different laws on how much and when witnesses are paid. Testifying against a drug dealer or another villainous threat definitely yield some cash. In fact, one Nevada women used the $50 she earned on the stand to buy crack cocaine. Payments in those cases, however, are in the interest of the truth, hopefully. I mean, you don’t testify against a murderer unless you’ve got some balls. Rekers and other “expert witnesses” often come with a mission.
In a murder trial, an expert witness definitely helps. They can offer insight on the how domestic violence may make someone snap, for example. Rekers and cultural crusaders are different beasts entirely. They have an agenda. During the Proposition 8 trial, “expert” Kenneth Miller, who argued against gay marriage, practically confessed that he had advocated “tapping into anti-minority sentiment” to get initiatives passed. He also admitted, “it is a general principle that it is undesirable for a religious majority to impose its views on a minority.” Rekers is not different. He wasn’t interested in the so-called “truth” down in Florida. He was driven by personal benefit. If the ban stands, he wins, and so too does his organization, the virulently discriminatory Family Research Council. Either way, he walks away wealthier.
The injection of personal gain perverts justice, which is based on facts and fairness. Even if Rekers didn’t have an agenda in the culture war, if prosecutors pay witnesses, the witness may regurgitate exactly what the prosecutors want to hear. Obviously Rekers was paid because the State of Florida, and McCollum, needed someone to protect their hides and ensure the gay ban remained in place. That’s not justice. That’s a bribe.