Michigan’s own witnesses make the case against it and for marriage equality

Mark Regnerus

Mark Regnerus

Discredited University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus was called as Michigan’s star witness in a trial to determine whether that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is legal.

Regnerus study showed that children whose heterosexual parents ever had a same-sex relationship had poorer developmental outcomes than children whose parents remained faithful. The study was discredited by the American Sociological Association who claimed “there is no evidence that children with parents in stable same-sex or opposite-sex relationships differ in terms of well-being.”

His own department at UT issued a statement at the time that said, “Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the university.”

Regnerus didn’t study children born into an LGBT family or adopted by same-sex parents. His study was comparing children from families that remained intact to those from families that had dissolved and a same-sex relationship may have occurred.

In his testimony, Regnerus was asked if he was aware of any data showing marriage equality reduces the number of children “raised in heterosexual biological parent families.”

“I’m unaware of that,” Regnerus testified.

The plaintiffs’ attorney then asked whether excluding same-sex couples from marrying would promote what Regnerus believes is the ideal environment for children.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

Regnerus also testified he’s not a fan of invitro fertilization because it reduces kinship. Nor does he really care for adoption because biological parents are more willing to sacrifice for their children.

Another witness for the state was a Brigham Young University economist Joseph Price who responded to a question about why economic benefits should be denied to same-sex couples.

“Women have a domesticating effect on men,” Price said.

The state’s final anti-gay witness was a Canadian economist who was asked if he believed gay people were going to hell.

“Without repentance, yes,” he said.

In other words, count on Michigan to become one of the next marriage equality states.

—  David Taffet

Mark Regnerus admits his study was BS, but stands behind his findings

Mark Regnerus

In an interview with Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus admitted that his recent study on gay parenting was flawed.

In the interview, he said he’d be more careful about the language he used.

“I said ‘lesbian mothers’ and ‘gay fathers,’ when in fact, I don’t know about their sexual orientation,” he said.

Despite that, Regnerus added, “But as far as the findings themselves, I stand behind them.”

The study compared the children of stable heterosexual couples to children of parents who had a gay or lesbian relationship at some time in the past. Regnerus claims he didn’t use more children of stable same-sex partners because, “they just were not that common in the nationally representative population.”

He claimed he found only two cases of lesbian couples who had been partnered 18 years. However, Census figures show that more than 6,800 same-sex couples are raising children in the state’s three largest metropolitan areas. He called looking for those couples like “looking for a needle in a haystack.” But he never was looking for same-sex couples in healthy relationships who are raising children.

He does say that the point of his study is misquoted. Groups like Focus on the Family claim the study proves straight people make better parents than gay people.

“I take pains in the study to say this is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad,” Regnerus said. “It is not a study about parenting or parenthood or parenting practices. I didn’t measure parenting practices.”

Now he claims the study was about comparing children of “intact biological families” to those whose parents divorced. But he was looking specifically for divorced parents who had a same-sex relationship along the way, whether or not they identified as gay or ever came out.

The problem with his study is that he only looked for people who were originally married, then divorced and along the way had a same-sex relationship. He was not looking for stable, openly gay or lesbian couples who were raising children. Because it would have been as easy for him to find those couples in Texas as anywhere else in the country.

—  David Taffet

UT finds no scientific misconduct in professor’s gay parenting study

Mark Regnerus

The University of Texas has completed its inquiry into the gay parenting study of professor Mark Regnerus, finding no grounds for a formal investigation.

The university released a statement Wednesday, explaining that the process included hiring a private consultant who is a former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He found that the inquiry was “handled in a manner consistent with university policy” and adhered to federal requirements.

Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study that was released in July. He 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.

His findings were that children of same-sex parents had more unstable lives, leading to an outrage in the LGBT community, many of whom called the study flawed because the study had set back years of positive research on LGBT families.

It was later revealed that The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes.

The university launched an inquiry into possible scientific misconduct and to find if Regnerus had an inappropriate relationship with the foundations funding the study after The New Civil Rights Movement writer Scott Rose raised concerns. Rose published his analysis on the study’s corruption Wednesday.

The university’s statement mentioned Rose’s accusations but found them unwarranted for an investigation.

“As required by its Revised Handbook of Operating Procedures, the university conducted an inquiry to determine whether the accusations made by writer Scott Rose had merit and warranted a formal investigation. After consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in a report on Aug. 24 that there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

“Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie accepted the report on Tuesday and deemed the matter closed from an institutional perspective.”

Regnerus told the Austin American-Statesman that he was pleased with the inquiry’s findings.

“I think it’s a just and wise decision, and I’m certainly pleased with it,” Regnerus told the he told them in an email. “It was a thorough and fair process, and conducted professionally.”

—  Anna Waugh

Research publication refers gay UT parenting study to ethics committee for investigation

The controversial UT study about gay parenting that many LGBT groups have labeled as flawed has been referred to a publication ethics committee.

The study was published in the science journal Social Science Research in early June. The publisher of the journal, Elsevier, received a complaint from a person, who also emailed Instant Tea this week, stating “that Regnerus’s study does not make a valid comparison and therefore is not sociologically valid.” The study will be investigated by the Committee on Publication Ethics.

In addition, the University of Texas will look into the study to determine whether it lacked scientific integrity. However, it is not a formal investigation, but an inquiry to determine if an investigation should follow, Director of Public Affairs David Ochsner told Instant Tea.

Ochsner said the university “received an allegation of scientific misconduct.”

“It is our policy that any time a formal allegation of scientific misconduct is made, a process of inquiry is begun within the Office of the Vice President for Research,” he said. “An ‘inquiry’ is a preliminary fact-finding exercise to determine if there is a basis for an investigation. An inquiry in itself is only an acknowledgement that a formal allegation has been made and is not evidence of wrongdoing.”

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.

—  Anna Waugh

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.

—  Anna Waugh

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