UT agrees to investigate professor’s flawed study that found children of gay parents are worse off

Mark Regnerus

The University of Texas at Austin is launching an investigation into a flawed parenting study that found children of straight couples have better lives.

Mark Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study. Regnerus examined children living in stable, two-parent heterosexual households for his control group and analyzed a mixture of children raised by gays and lesbians, including those who had a parent in a same-sex relationship but didn’t live with that parent.

The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

The study gained enormous negative backlash from the LGBT community, including groups like the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, after it was discovered that right-wing organizations helped fund the project.

UT’s investigation will determine whether the study lacked scientific integrity and whether Regnerus had unprofessional relationships and gained from the study’s backers.

—  Dallasvoice

Flawed study from UT researcher attempts to prove children of heterosexual parents fare better

Mark Regnerus

LGBT advocates are denouncing a study from a University of Texas researcher that claims children with gay or lesbian parents don’t fare as well as children of heterosexuals. (Media Matters picked the study apart and found at least five ways the study is flawed.)

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, in a statement. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”

The study was done by Mark Regnerus of the department of sociology and the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

For his heterosexual control group, Regnerus used children living in stable, two-parent homes. For his group of children of gays and lesbians, he used what was described as a hodgepodge of families that included any child whose parents had ever had a same-sex relationship, even if the child did not live with that parent.

“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

In the study Regnerus showed that some disadvantages children of gays and lesbians face are a result of the discrimination against the LGBT community. That includes the added expenses and other hurdles gay and lesbians encounter because of the lack of relationship recognition. While not its intention, the study actually makes a good case for marriage equality.

Other studies show that children of gays and lesbians fare equally as well or better than the children of heterosexuals.

The Family Equality Council, HRC, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation issued a joint statement slamming Regnerus and attacking the study’s funding.

Funding came from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, both known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

—  David Taffet

TX Dem. Party Chairman Boyd Richie supports marriage equality, says TX loves ‘all our families’

Boyd Richie

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie joined 10 other state Democratic Party chairs Thursday in issuing his support for marriage equality to be added to the party’s platform in September at the Democratic National Convention.

“In Texas we love all our families,” Richie said in a Freedom to Marry release. “We know to build a strong Democratic party and a strong Texas we must honor the core principles of our party and champion the full human rights of every citizen.”

Richie’s support is an interesting twist, seeing as the State Democratic Executive Committee voted down a civil unions resolution in November. When the item came back up for discussion in February, Richie ruled it out of order because it had already been voted on.

Richie joined state party chairs from California, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, Wisconsin, Washington, New Jersey and Kansas in supporting the effort.

However, Vermont Democratic Party Chairman Jake Perkinson objected to the inclusion of his name in the announcement because he simple told the organization he supported gay marriage, but not that it should be included in the party platform.

“It certainly was a little bit overreaching to put my name on something that I hadn’t even reviewed at that point,” he told POLITICO. “The whole thing just seems premature…the conversation was, do you support gay marriage? And yes, obviously I do. I said, what’s the next step? They said that’s all we need for now, and we’ll get back to you….that was two weeks ago.”

New York’s Jay Jacobs clarified his name’s inclusion in the announcement, saying he does not think his personal opinion reflect that of his state Democratic Party.

Read the full Freedom to Marry announcement after the jump.

—  Dallasvoice

Gonzalez issues statement on marriage equality plank, as San Antonio continues to lead the way

Charles Gonzalez

U.S. Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, a national co-chair for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, is also the only member of Texas’ congressional delegation who’s signed Freedom To Marry’s petition in support of a marriage equality plank in the 2012 Democratic Party platform.

Gonzalez is one of several Obama campaign co-chairs who’ve endorsed the marriage equality plank. In response to a request from Instant Tea, spokesman Drew Stout sent over a statement from Gonzalez explaining his position. Here’s the full statement:

“The Democratic Party has been and always will be the Party committed to fighting for equality for all Americans,” Gonzalez said. “As an individual Member of Congress, marriage equality is an issue which I support. During the platform writing process, ideas and opinions will be considered from our diverse Democratic Party family, and I understand that the President and the Party are committed to crafting a platform that reflects our values and a belief that America is a nation in which everyone deserves a fair shot and hard work is rewarded. I fully expect that my opinion, and the opinions of others, will be an important consideration in reaching a consensus in drafting our party’s platform. The time will come to consider the content of the platform, but at this time, not a single platform committee member has been chosen and the process has yet to begin. As the election season moves forward, my chief objective will be for President Obama and our candidates in every part of the country to prevail in November so that we continue to make this country a better place for everyone.”

Interestingly, Gonzalez’s public support for the marriage equality plank continues a recent trend of politicians from the San Antonio area leading the way on this issue in the Lone Star State. Of the six Texas mayors who’ve joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign, three are from Bexar County.

—  John Wright

Rawlings gets 108 more calls on marriage pledge, which activist says will haunt Dallas mayor

GetEQUAL organizer Daniel Cates says Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' decision not to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage places a permanent strain on his relationship with the LGBT community.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ office received 108 phone calls Friday from people urging him to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage, according to Chief of Staff Paula Blackmon.

The calls were part of a Statewide Day of Action organized by GetEQUAL.

“It was steady all day,’ Blackmon said.

Asked whether the calls had convinced Rawlings to change his mind and sign the pledge, Blackmon said, “Not to my knowledge.”

She added that, as Rawlings has previously stated, the mayor plans to meet with LGBT leaders in the near future to further discuss what other things he can do to support equality. Rawlings claims he’s personally in favor of same-sex marriage but doesn’t want to get involved in divisive social issues.

Daniel Cates of GetEQUAL, who organized Friday’s Day of Action, said he’s proud of the number of calls it generated.

“I think it’s probably a lot more calls then they usually get on any issue,” Cates said. “I think 108 calls is respectable. Each one of those calls I think represents thousands of people who didn’t call in, and if they’re smart, they [in the mayor's office] realize that.”

Cates said he believes Rawlings is proving that he isn’t listening to what people have to say about the marriage pledge.

The LGBT community can no longer trust the mayor, who shouldn’t be considered an ally, Cates said. Asked whether he agrees with other activists who’ve suggested the marriage pledge has become like kicking a dead horse, Cates suggested he’s ready to move on but won’t drop it completely — partly because that’s what Rawlings has hoped for the whole time.

“The fact is we do have bigger fish to fry,” he acknowledged. “We do have more important things to worry about, and if Rawlings isn’t going to join us, then that’s fine. But he needs to know that we are going to continue to remind him about this. It’s always going to be there haunting him. This is going to be a permanent strain on his relations with the LGBT community.”

—  John Wright

LGBT activists to flood Dallas mayor’s phone line with requests that he sign marriage pledge

Daniel Cates

I’ve been unable to get in touch with Daniel Cates, the local organizer for GetEQUAL, but according to Facebook, it looks like his group is putting together a “Statewide Day of Action” on Friday — in which people are encouraged to call Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ office and ask him to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage. This event was also promoted during last night’s monthly meeting of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. In addition to Cates, we’ve left a message with Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, so we’ll keep you posted. From the FB event:

**PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO FORWARD THIS INVITE TO THOSE IN YOUR FRIEND LISTS**

Despite weeks of outrage from the community, protests,countless emails, thousands of phone calls, petition signatures, faxes and even a meeting with members of the LGBT community, Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas continues to refuse to join the Mayors of almost every major U.S. city in signing a pledge in support of marriage equality.

Rather than throwing in the towel, GetEQUAL TX is just getting started!

Join us Friday, February 24th, 2012 as we invite Texans to give the Dallas Mayor’s Office a little call. Our goal is to tie up the office phone lines from 9am-5pm with literally thousands of calls, sending a message to Mike Rawlings that this issue is not going away!

Here is all you have to do anytime on Friday, February 24th,btween 9am and 5pm:

CALL: 214-670-4054

TELL THEM: “My name is______, I believe that all Texans should be able to marry the person that they love. I want Mayor Mike Rawlings to Sign the Pledge.”
(We ask that you please be respectful)

This is the first in a series of actions we will use to continue to pressure our mayor to turn his words into action! We will keep you posted on further developments!

Thank you so much for your commitment to equality!

According to Freedom to Marry, seven mayors from Texas are now among the more than 100 from across the country who’ve signed the group’s pledge. The latest addition to the list from Texas is Lucy Johnson of Kyle, south of Austin.

—  John Wright

Equality Texas calls on mayors from state’s 10 largest cities to sign marriage pledge

Equality Texas is calling on its members to ask the mayors of Texas’ 10 largest cities to sign Freedom to Marry’s pledge in support of same-sex marriage. “No individual mayor can confer marriage equality. Similarly, no municipality can enact a law providing for the freedom to marry,” the group writes. “However, the mayors of Texas’ 10 largest cities can lead the way in demonstrating their support for eliminating discrimination, and ending the exclusion of lesbian & gay couples from the institution of marriage.”

Equality Texas’ Action Alert includes photos of 13 Texas mayors — the six who’ve signed the pledge, and the seven from top 10 cities who haven’t. Green checks appear next to the mayors who’ve signed the pledge, and, as you can see in the screen grab above, red X’s appear next to those who haven’t. In addition to Mike Rawlings of Dallas and Betsy Price of Fort Worth, the latter group includes Robert Cluck of Arlington and Phil Dyer of Plano. To take action, go here.

In related news, the group of mayors from across the country who’ve signed the pledge, called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, issued a statement today reacting to a federal appeals court’s decision striking down Proposition 8:

LOS ANGELES – Today, Mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, who are all Chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, the bipartisan group of more than 130 mayors from across the nation who have pledged their support for ending marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples, released the following statement:

“As Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, we know how important marriage is to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation.  When committed couples are able to pledge their love to one another and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage, our communities flourish and our cities are more competitive. Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit reaffirms that the American Dream is possible for everyone and brings us one step closer to ending marriage discrimination once and for all.  We look forward to a day when all of our citizens will be able to share fairly and equally in the freedom to marry.”

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, added:

“America’s mayors understand why marriage matters – to loving and committed couples, to their families, to communities navigating tough economic times.  Today’s important court ruling affirms basic American values, and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one and make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones.”

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Rawlings won’t attend neighborhood meeting due to threat of LGBT protest

Daniel Cates

The fallout continues over Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Paula Blackmon, Rawlings’ chief of staff, confirmed today that the mayor may cancel a neighborhood meeting scheduled for Kiest Park on Tuesday night, after LGBT activists threatened to stage a demonstration at the event.

Last week, Rawlings angered many in the LGBT community when he said that although he “personally” supports same-sex marriage, he won’t sign the pledge because his policy is to avoid social issues that don’t directly impact city government.

Dallas is the largest city in the nation whose mayor hasn’t signed the pledge unveiled by the national group Freedom to Marry during the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, D.C.

“It doesn’t need to be a demonstration, it needs to be conversation,” Blackmon said. “He’s willing and he’s open to sit down and talk about it, but he doesn’t want it to be done in an atmosphere that’s not constructive.”

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, said Blackmon contacted him this morning and offered a meeting with Rawlings if the group called off the demonstration.

Cates said he’s interested in meeting with the mayor, but when he refused to cancel the demonstration, Blackmon rescinded her offer.

“Preconditions are not acceptable,” Cates said. “We’ll meet him at Starbucks at midnight if that’s what it takes, but we’re not going to cancel a demonstration in order to have a meeting. [The LGBT] community is pretty outraged by this, and I think they have a right to express that. We’ll call off the demonstration if he signs the pledge.”

Blackmon said when it became clear that Cates wouldn’t settle for anything less than Rawlings signing the pledge, she decided it would be better to pursue a meeting with other LGBT leaders. “The mayor is not going to sign the pledge,” she said.

Blackmon added that it was still “up in the air” whether the mayor would cancel the Kiest Park meeting.

Cates, who’s also launched an online petition calling for Rawlings to sign the pledge, said if and when the Kiest Park neighborhood meeting is canceled, he’ll call off the demonstration. However, he said GetEQUAL will look for other opportunities to demonstrate, possibly outside City Hall.

“We are determined to escalate this if they continue to refuse to cooperate,” Cates said.

UPDATE: Blackmon confirmed this afternoon that Mayor Rawlings will not attend the Kiest Park community meeting.

She said residents who plan to attend the “Meet the Mayor” meeting want to talk about things like potholes and loose dogs, and it would be unfair to subject them to an LGBT demonstration.

“He just does not want to put them through that, so he plans to meet with them on a more individual basis,” Blackmon said.

She added that City Councilwoman Delia Jasso and Councilman Scott Griggs still plan to attend the Kiest Park meeting. She also said the mayor is reaching out to other LGBT community leaders to set up a meeting with them. However, she said it’s doubtful that the meeting with LGBT community leaders will be open to the media.

—  John Wright

Dallas now largest city whose mayor hasn’t signed pledge in support of same-sex marriage

Julian Castro

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has signed Freedom to Marry’s pledge in support of same-sex marriage, making Dallas the largest city in the country whose mayor hasn’t signed the pledge. Castro becomes the third mayor from Texas to sign the pledge, joining Austin’s Lee Leffingwell and Houston’s Annise Parker. San Antonio is the nation’s seventh-most populous city, and Dallas is 9th. The mayors of all eight cities larger than Dallas have now signed the pledge. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he personally supports same-sex marriage but won’t sign the pledge. The only other mayor in the top 1o who hasn’t signed the pledge is Chuck Reed of San Jose, which is No. 10.

According to Facebook, the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL is planning a demonstration at Kiest Park during a neighborhood meeting that Rawlings plans to attend on Tuesday evening.

—  John Wright

‘I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position’

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox issued a statement this afternoon, criticizing Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for failing to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality this week.

“As the executive director and CEO of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community center in the sixth largest LGBT community in United States, I am concerned that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is not supporting marriage equality alongside other big-city mayors,” Cox said. “Legally recognized marriage is a civil rights, an economic and a legal issue that directly affects the members of the LGBT community where he serves as mayor and who call Dallas home.

“In the last two years, two major LGBT conferences (Creating Change and the Out & Equal Workplace Summit) have visited Dallas, bringing millions of dollars in local economic impact. I suspect that no LGBT group will want to come to Dallas when they learn of the mayor’s position,” Cox wrote. “LGBT families are shut out of the legal protections granted with marriage. The result is that couples and children in LGBT families are precluded from legal health benefits, economic benefits and the safety and security that so many others enjoy because the laws automatically protect them. I urge Mayor Rawlings to revisit and reconsider his decision.”

Below is video from this morning’s press conference in Washington, where Freedom to Marry formally launched the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign. According to the press release we’ve posted after the jump, 80 mayors from across the country have now signed the pledge in support of marriage equality. Among those who spoke at the press conference was Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is co-chairing the campaign.

“Everyone here believes in the vital importance of marriage to our constituents, to our communities, and to our country,” Parker said. “Together, we will work to ensure that our cities have what they need to thrive – and in order to keep our cities competitive in business and welcoming in culture, we will work hard to win the freedom to marry everywhere and end federal marriage discrimination once and for all.”

—  John Wright