University of Texas at Austin associate professor and researcher Mark Regnerus has some nerve. We'll get to that in a second. First, to remind you of some key facts pertaining to Regnerus's so-called New Family Structures Study, which ever anti-gay group (most notably the National Organization For Marriage) promoted in 2012 in hopes of steering elections their way:
While purporting to reach concrete findings about same-sex parents, Regnerus didn't actually compare kids who were raised by stable, coupled same-sex parents with those raised by opposite-sex counterparts. He only found two respondents who were raised by committed same-sex (lesbian, in this case) parents for their entire childhoods.
Major funding for Regnerus's Study came from the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank co-founded by Robert George, who also co-founded the National Organization For Marriage and wrote the text of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Documents show that there was some degree of coordination between the funder and the study, most notably in the form of W. Bradford Wilcox, who was, at the time, a fellow at Witherspoon.
His Witherspoon funders specifically told Regnerus that they wanted his study to be completed before the Supreme Court took up marriage cases. For obvious reasons.
The American Sociological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have all publicly criticized Regnerus's work
Judge Bernard A. Friedman, a Reagan-appointed judge with the Federal District Court in Detroit, wrote in his opinion striking down Michigan's marriage ban that “The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration,” adding that Regnerus's research was “hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder"
An internal audit of Regnerus' work determined that his "severely flawed" research never should have been published
Further showing his real feelings, Regnerus has made some truly ludicrous claims about why equality is to be feared, like suggesting same-sex marriage will grant straight men "permission to stray" and will lead to more "sexual novelty"
(*More facts can be found at RegnerusFallout.org and elsewhere on the web)
The rebuke has been loud, multi-faceted, and thorough. And even though a small smattering of social conservatives (but not that many, frankly) have tried to defend his work, the defense has fallen flat. The work is just that flawed; the biases are just that obvious.
Yet this week, in the online publication for the very same Witherspoon Institute that funded and propelled his junk study for political gain, Mark Regnerus has the gall to go after a new Australian study that suggests kids of same-sex parents are doing quite well. Despite the shoddiness of his own sample (the biggest and earliest criticism of Regnerus's study), Regnerus bases most of his major criticism around who the Australian researchers recruited and how they recruited them. Calling the outcome "suspect science" and attacking the methodology, Regnerus for some reason thinks he—he, of all people—has the intellectual capital to make the key counterpoint.
Full post at link:
Is Same-Sex Parenting Better for Kids? The New Australian Study Can’t Tell Us by Mark Regnerus [The Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site]
It takes a lot of hubris to earn the takedowns that Regnerus has and to still pretend that you are the one to criticize other researchers' work. But to do so on the online journal (one that is edited by anti-gay activist Ryan T. Anderson, no less) of the very organization that concocted the whole charade? That takes a special kind of hubris unique to the anti-gay conservative movement!
As for the substance of Regnerus's pushback, here is some of what else he has to say:
But will same-sex parents’ relationships be more or less stable in the future? On the one hand, we know that same-sex relationships in general—across multiple datasets—remain more fragile than opposite-sex ones (and to be fair, no group is performing all that well). We can argue about why this is so, but it is. Nevertheless, it’s too early to tell if this remains the case with same-sex marriages, given their comparatively small number and the pent-up demand (reflecting greater longevity) characteristic of the earliest marriages.
On the other hand, the “planned” nature of new forms of same-sex parenting (e.g., ART) no doubt reflects more deliberation (and more money) than most unplanned pregnancies, even though all such ART and surrogacy births reflect diminished kinship. That is, somebody’s not a biological parent of the child. In parenting studies, wealth and planning are beneficial resources, while diminished kinship is a risk.
Whether such “planned” parenthood is the new normal—the average—in same-sex relationships is unknown. I have my doubts. But there’s no doubt that this is the face of same-sex parenting: the well-adjusted, ART-generated child of a 30-something, upper-middle-class lesbian mother and her partner. It’s what scholars, judges, and the media demand as a comparison category today. The [Australian study] certainly delivered on that. And yet the reality of same-sex relationships in parents’ lives—the average experience—has been something quite different, as the NFSS revealed.
This was brought home to me during a recent conversation with a University of Colorado professor. He shared with me that he and his family live next door to a woman—a mother—who’s been through three same-sex relationships in the past several years that they’ve been neighbors. The professor relayed that on numerous occasions he’d find himself in his back yard playing with his kids, only to notice the neighbor’s son peering over the fence, watching. The boy’s mother, aware of this, confessed to the professor, “I’m doing the best I can.”
If the NFSS’s accounts of household instability do not portend the future of gay parenting in America—and they may not—then you can expect stories like this to become rarer in reality as same-sex parenting arrangements indeed outperform their peers. But I know better than to expect social realities to change as rapidly as have attitudes about same-sex marriage.
I sometimes wonder why I even bother voicing such concerns. In my short legal career, I witnessed US District Court Judge Bernard Friedman dismiss my NFSS-based study and the analyses of US and Canadian census data by my colleagues, preferring to appear hip at his dinner parties by throwing our evidence under the bus rather than responding to it. In a nation that seems to be rapidly devolving into one big junior high school, evidence no longer appears to matter. Only allegiances do.
While the first three passages that I snipped for the above sound mostly scholarly and even-handed, the real key points are found in the three that follow. In the first of that final trio, Regnerus uses one anecdote about a friend's lesbian neighbor to suggest that the real face of same-sex parenting is "something quite different" than what others will have you believe. In the second of the closing three paragraphs, Regnerus insists that "he knows better than to expect social realities to change as rapidly as have attitudes about same-sex marriage," which is both an egotistical and an unsupportable point for him to make. And then in the closing, he preteneds that the judge who smacked down his "research" in a court of law was simply doing so to "appear hip at dinner parties," that this whole debate is playing out like "junior high," and that "only allegiances" really matter any more.
These closing thoughts tell you just about all you need to know about what Mark Regnerus has—and, more importantly, has not—learned during the two years of scrutiny through which he has lived. In the first, he is showing that he still has a bias, if not zeal, for portraying kids of gay parents as longing and in need of something they don't have; in the second, he is showing that he really does think that he has a window to the future, even if his only really insight was driven by biases of the past; and in the third, he is showing that he will not take any responsibility for the damage he, per his own professional volition, brought to the debate, the science, the institutions that surround him, and the many living, breathing same-sex parents who have to spend time defending ourselves against a "study" that was always more of a PR campaign than it was a serious attempt at fair findings.
The real problem for Regnerus is that both LGBT advocates and mainstream decision-makers saw right through his own allegiances and called them out for what they were and are. Doubling down now won't change that.