Horrifically anti-gay Regnerus study conceived at top GOP think tank Heritage

The NYT revealed this weekend that the horrifically anti-gay “Regenerus” study, named after its author Mark Regnerus, which suggests that gay parents push their children to suicide, was conceived at the top Republican think tank, the Heritage Foundation.

The study has been roundly discredited by academics, but that hasn’t stopped it from being touted by the religious right as a silver bullet to stymie, and reverse, gay rights advances in the US and abroad.

Awful Regenerus study was conceived at the GOP’s Heritage Foundation

Here’s the NYT on the Republican origins of the Regnerus study:

In meetings hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington in late 2010, opponents of same-sex marriage discussed the urgent need to generate new studies on family structures and children, according to recent pretrial depositions of two witnesses in the Michigan trial and other participants. One result was the marshaling of $785,000 for a large-scale study by Mark Regnerus, a meeting participant and a sociologist at the University of Texas who will testify in Michigan.


Mark Rengerus, author of debunked anti-gay study that an internal auditor called “bullsh*t.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Regnerus study is so bad that even the journal that published it launched an internal audit that found the study to be “bullsh*t.”

The main problem with the study, which supposedly is about whether gay parenting is good or bad for kids, is that it’s not terribly clear that it includes any kids who were actually raised by gay parents.

Most of the children the study examined only spent a small period of their childhood with one or more gay parents. Thus, whatever “damage” the kids carried to adulthood could have easily happened during the majority of their childhood spent with heterosexual parents.

But hey, why let a small thing like facts interfere with the Republican party’s sad ongoing campaign to harm gay people worldwide.

Heritage-Regnerus study is used worldwide to hurt gays

The Heritage-Regnerus study has now traveled the globe, and is being used to harm gay people in Russia, Poland, France (where the Catholic church has reportedly been busy disseminating it), and Africa.


In Russia, which is in the middle of a horrific crackdown on gay and trans people, the Heritage-Regnerus study has been widely used to promote anti-gay legislation and animus.

US religious right leader Brian Brown of NOM testified before the Duma in favor of anti-gay legislation, and cited the Regnerus study.  As a result, the Russians came up with legislation to take children away from gay parents, and the authors of the bill cite the Regnerus study as their justification.  From Russian news service RIA Novosti:

A bill that proposes stripping gays with children of their parental rights was introduced in the lower house of the Russian parliament by a lawmaker from the ruling party on Thursday.

The bill is a follow-up to legislation introduced in June that bans propagation of “gay propaganda among minors,” according to the document’s text, available on the State Duma’s website.

“Harm that could be inflicted on a child’s mental health in case of their parent’s homosexual contacts is immense,” the bill’s author, United Russia party member Andrei Zhuravlyov, said in a note accompanying the document.

The bill cited a controversial 2012 study by US sociologist Mark Regnerus as proof that gay parenting distorts a child’s sexual orientation and increases suicidal tendencies, social ineptitude and risks of catching venereal disease.

Here’s the Hertiage-Regnerus study being discussed in Russia only a few months before that country passed its draconian crackdown on its gay and trans citizens last summer (I left Google Translate on, it’s a good enough translation to see how the Russians fell for the study, hook, line and sinker:



Heritage-Regnerus was also cited in Russia as “proof” that gay parents rape their own children.


In France, some gay rights advocates credit the Heritage-Regnerus study with galvanizing the French far right, which includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Catholic church, and the French UMP conservative party into fighting back, sometimes violently, against France’s recent legalization of gay nuptials.

Austria, Croatia, Poland, England and Wales

The study was also cited in a lesbian second-parent-adoption case out of Austria in the European Court of Human Rights, was used by anti-gay bigots in Croatia to push a gay marriage ban in that country, was used by anti-gay forces in England and Wales in an attempt to stop the legalization of gay marriage, and was used to help thwart civil unions legislation in Poland.


Regnerus has also been cited as justification for Africa’s vicious crackdown on gay rights, including anti-gay efforts in Zambia:


United States

And in the US, the Heritage-Regnerus study was used in legal arguments defending DOMA, and has been cited in cases in Nevada, Michigan, and a number of other states.  The state of Utah even used the Heritage-Regnerus study in its recent efforts to fight gay marriage in that state.

Just how bad is the Heritage-Regnerus anti-gay study?

It is difficult to overstate just how horrid this GOP-inspired anti-gay “study” really is.  Our own Becca Morn did a series of essays about the Regnerus study, before we knew that Heritage was to blame for it. Here’s Becca’s summation of the study:

The Regnerus study claims to compare and contrast outcomes for children raised in gay or lesbian-headed families as opposed to heterosexual families (both biological and adoptive). Its conclusion: Children raised by gay and lesbian families are (according to the study) significantly more prone to depression, suicide, drug abuse, getting STDs, doing lousy in school, having behavior problems in general, and being sexually abused. Oh, and growing up to be gay.

In glancing through Regenerus data and charts, it would seem to indicate lesbian mothers are especially awful at raising kids, in addition to being more likely to be on public assistance and welfare. Not to mention, experts at taking children and turning them gay.

And just how bad is Mark Regnerus himself?

Mark Regnerus recently went off recently about his concern that gay marriage, and America’s tolerance of gays generally, have somehow emboldened straight men to try anal sex.


“If gay marriage is perceived as legitimate by heterosexual women, it will eventually embolden boyfriends everywhere — and not a few husbands — to press for what men have always historically wanted but were rarely allowed: sexual novelty in the form of permission to stray without jeopardizing their primary relationship. Discussion of openness in sexual partners in straight marriages will become more common, just as the practice of heterosexual anal sex got a big boost from the normalization of gay men’s sexual behavior in both contemporary porn and in the American imagination.”

Thanks for elevating such a magnificent mind, Heritage Foundation.

The GOP: Doing all it can to harm as many gay people as possible in America and around the world.  GOPOS.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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85 Responses to “Horrifically anti-gay Regnerus study conceived at top GOP think tank Heritage”

  1. lt says:

    you obviously didn’t read the original scholarly article by Regnerus…

  2. ComradeRutherford says:

    Great exchange, I learned a lot!

  3. cambridgemac says:

    It’s nopt for nothing that Gore Vidal called the New York Times “the Typhoid Mary of American journalism.”

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    If Jeb Bush runs it could be close.

    The socialist and trade union votes don’t amount to much now, but they will
    later, as will any black or latina/latino parties that develop.

  5. scottrose says:

    All you have to do to prove that what I am saying is true, is to go to the Times’s website and search for the name Robert George. He’s penned any number of op-eds for them, and been quoted, (not in anti-gay-rights contexts) by any number of their reporters. The Times does not report anything negative about Robert George, and it is a deliberate policy that the newspaper has. P.S., the only exception was Frank Rich’s column “The Bigots’ Last Hurrah.” But George was only mentioned in passing, not in detail.

  6. David Scott says:

    despicable GOP. LIARS… .BIGOTS…. RACISTS…. WOMEN HATING little old white whores of hate! GOP=CACA

  7. MyrddinWilt says:

    Why choose Regnerus to do it? There is also a Regnery Press.

    Do Republicans just blindly follow stuff if it sounds a bit like Reagan?

    The anti-choice crowd has a ‘Susan B. Anthony List’ to try to claim her for their side (on precisely zero evidence). We could do some real mischief with a Ronald Reagan award for freedom.

  8. BeccaM says:

    Could be. He clearly has clout enough to remain anonymous (with respect to the NYT).

  9. scottrose says:

    If the Times reporter were serious, he would do a follow-up piece looking closely at how quickly the Catholic Church around the world picked up the anti-gay weapons of the simultaneously-published Regnerus and Marks papers. Then he would ask Witherspoon’s Luis Tellez, a regional representative of the Church’s Opus Dei, to tell him everything about how Witherspoon and NOM coordinated with the Church on the Regnerus study. It is obvious that Church officials had information about the paper before it was published.

  10. scottrose says:

    My hunch is that they want to be able to quote Robert George as a source and are afraid that if they report something negative about him, he will never talk with them again.

  11. scottrose says:

    That would be a satisfactory outcome, but don’t forget that the worst of the villains in the Regnerus hoax is “Social Science Research” journal editor James Wright. Without publication through (alleged) peer review, the paper would be nothing in scientific circles. It is still urgently important that it be retracted. The publisher, Elsevier still has Wright installed as the editor-in-chief of its upcoming International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Imagine how much anti-gay junk science might get foisted on the world through that Encyclopedia if we don’t get serious with Elsevier about retraction of the Regnerus paper. And, worse yet, Wright has a flunky installed as the editor of the LGBT section of the Encyclopedia. For the November, 2012 issue, he wrote an article in favor of Wright publishing the Regnerus and Marks papers. He is a conscienceless shill. Don Barrett is his name.

  12. BeccaM says:

    You’re right: I just read the NYT piece again and it makes NO mention whatsoever of George, NOM, or Maggie Gallagher, a name that should be familiar to anybody even vaguely informed as to anti-gay lobbying efforts.

    This, despite the email mentioning the eager desire to get Gallagher’s input on the study before it was begun.

  13. scottrose says:

    I think that the New York Times is afraid of reporting on Robert George’s evil deeds.

    The only story the Times ever published about Robert George was a source-greasing fluff piece.

    Even this latest article, which should, in order to report fully and correctly on the genesis of this anti-gay junk science, incriminate Robert George, makes no mention of him.

    When I first exposed that George was involved with Regnerus, NOM, in the persons of Gallagher, Brown and Thomas Peters began a massive campaign to scoff at the notion that George had anything to do with the study. (That, despite the fact that the Desert News, where George is on the editorial board, was the first paper to report about the study, and did so in glowing, uncritical terms, and devoted multiple articles to it).

    There was a press embargo for all other publications that allowed Deseret to report on it first. The notion that Robert George — as a Witherspoon Institute Senior Fellow and a Deseret News editorial board member — had nothing to do with that defies credulity.

    Also, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League sent a letter to the president of UT telling him that I was being absurd to implicate Robert George (who is on the board of the Catholic League) and that George was right not to “respond” (to my uncovering his involvement).

    So it really is time for the New York Times to do an expose on Robert George. Frank Schaeffer and I co-authored an op-ed calling for an expose of Robert George but the Times declined to publish it.

  14. BeccaM says:

    And neither is a state, federal, or foreign government legislature, which are the places where these studies, Regnerus and Marks, are having the most success.

  15. 2karmanot says:

    Bingo….reading your mind. see above.

  16. 2karmanot says:

    “The courts and their judges are not impartial” Indeed, doesn’t the Daubert Standard really depend on the ‘Judge as gatekeeper’ principle? —–bigot judge and the standard is moot?

  17. Naja pallida says:

    What you say is all true, but that’s not really the point I was trying to make. I want him to hang himself under oath. I want him to discredit himself, in his own words, with his own “study”, to the point where he won’t ever be offered a legitimate job in the field ever again, and no serious peer-reviewed journal will ever accept another paper from him on any topic.

  18. Badgerite says:

    I know. The New York Times ain’t a courtroom.

  19. BeccaM says:

    Exactly. Their success rate in the courts — which on average do tend to value truth over prejudicial bias & hearsay — has been mixed at best, and lately in the U.S. to be losing more than winning.

    But homophobic legislators don’t care about that, and thus the success rate for the bigots has been much higher there. It gives them something to wave around and to claim their bigotry has a scientific basis, even though it’s BS. That’s why it’s been so effective in stopping pro-gay legislation and, in many states and nations, passing virulently anti-gay laws.

    Remember also that part of the intended audience is regular folks who simply might not have made up their minds. Legitimate science has already been coming down firmly on the side that being LGBT isn’t a mental illness nor a moral defect, but simply a normal but somewhat uncommon human trait. Now they’re being told that there’s supposed scientific proof that gay people are crappy parents — and these ordinary folks don’t have the scientific education or training to know they’re being lied to.

    Yeah, we have the truth on our side. But they’re fighting it as a propaganda war, and we have to get used to the fact they’re going to lie through their teeth.

  20. Badgerite says:

    Its a fair point. But I think you need to look at when those events happened. Hawaii now has marriage equality as law. The impact of the Dubois and Olsen representation in Prop 8 and Windsor cases is still reverberating.
    And invariably, since the state legislatures that these people are targeting are now passing into law statutes that are clearly going to be challenged as unconstitutional, this ‘study’, as part of the legislative record of passage, will end up in a court of law. Probably the SCOTUS at some point. It is not avoidable . It needs to be taken on and taken on vigorously. Jurists and lawyers are not scientists, but there are standards of scientific evidence that this study fails to meet. This purports to be a statistical study. And that is its vulnerability. Because it clearly is not.

    It is a ‘study’ with a forgone conclusion. That’s not statistics. That’s lying.

  21. BeccaM says:

    I know what you mean. The NYT provides an interesting new angle, but I think they completely miss the point — as well as the real connections to the anti-gay lobbying groups.

    It’s like they’re looking at just one set of ‘deep pockets’ that helped pay for the funding without any attention on who arranged for access to those pockets in the first place.

  22. scottrose says:

    What you say is true, though I would be surprised if even the most virulent anti-gay bigot judge wouldn’t worry that upon appeal, his certification of the Regnerus paper as meeting the Daubert Standard would make him look incompetent or otherwise unprofessional. Scalia did allege that there isn’t consensus among social scientists on gay parenting, but in fact, there is. The ones who do not support equality are religious anti-gay bigots. Indeed, the main supporters of this are a cabal of sociologists of religion who dishonor their field by using it mainly to promote their bigotries. No impartial reviewer could possibly think that Regnerus qua science is viable. He didn’t even assemble an appropriate comparison group, something taught as indispensable in every Sociology and Statistics 101 class.

  23. BeccaM says:

    I’m not disagreeing with you. And I share your ire, as well as your conclusions that Regnerus and Marks are both anti-gay bigot hacks, as are those who funded and promoted them.

    The danger is in assuming that debunking only requires the studies, Regnerus and Marks both, to be admitted in evidence to court, and hoping that a sufficiently vigorous rebuttal will kill them once and for all.

    It’s like whack-a-mole. One judge throws them out as rubbish science, which they are, and another says they’re admissible. And legislative ‘expert witness’ testimony doesn’t even have to meet Daubert standards, not when the government officials in question — whether it’s American states or Congress, or some committee in Russia or France — simply want to lend a soapbox to the forces of bigotry.

    The way to debunk garbage science is with real science. Legitimate studies. Not in the courts, which will get it wrong about as often as they get it right, mostly because they’re jurists and lawyers, not scientists. Quite honestly, I think the whole expert testimony and Daubert standard regime here in the U.S. needs a lot of reform.

  24. scottrose says:

    The New York Times is awful at reporting on the Regnerus fraud. For example, its first article about the study includes this howler: “outside experts, by and large, said the research was rigorous, providing some of the best data yet comparing outcomes for adult children with a gay parent with those with heterosexual parents. ” WHO were the outside experts, if it isn’t too much to ask? Later in the same article, the Times has Dr. Paul Amato praising the integrity of the study, and reporting that he has no connection to it, but in fact, he was a paid consultant, Witherspoon/Regnerus paid for Amato’s wife to have a vacation in Austin, and then Regnerus recommended Amato as a peer reviewer to Wright, and then immediately e-mailed Amato with a copy of the paper, fawning language and a statement that he hoped Amato would accept the peer review assignment. If that is the New York Times’s concept of having “no” connection to a study, well . . . ..

  25. BeccaM says:

    I’ve read up on that as well, and there’s a critical flaw in the Standard: The judge is the gatekeeper. A judge who often lacks the scientific training or background to know when he or she is being sandbagged by phony science.

    If the judge is biased or able to be swayed into including unscientific ‘expert’ testimony, there’s nothing to stop it from influencing a case.

  26. scottrose says:

    The Regnerus paper does not meet the Daubert Standard.

  27. Badgerite says:

    A few years back isn’t now. Hawaii now recognizes marriage equality. I think the outcome would be different today.I don’t see how anyone with a straight face can call this evidence. It is opinion dressed up as evidence. And it seems to me, though it is only an impression, that there is more legal and political manpower and momentum working against this bullshit now. I could be wrong. But if this ‘study’ has been around that long, it is high time that it met some serious resistance and get officially debunked. In court or otherwise. At the very least the opportunity to reveal its questionable methodology will be there. Personally, I don’t think it qualifies as expert anything. There are standards to be met and it simply doesn’t meet them.
    Belief of something is not evidence. Someone mentioned the Daubert Standards. Google it. This just doesn’t meet them.
    Either way, this needs to be attacked head on. I’m quite pissed off right now.
    Maybe it shows.

  28. BeccaM says:

    I’m with you. While there probably is a Heritage Foundation connection, I still conclude the primary impetus behind the study (as well as the one from Marks) was NOM, working with Wilcox, Tellez, and Robert George to make it happen via their lobbying group ties.

    Personally, I think Heritage’s involvement was primarily to provide some of the funding. Motive and opportunity came from elsewhere.

  29. scottrose says:

    Don’t forget that in 2010, (as now, as a matter of fact, but even more so then) Gallagher was with NOM.

  30. Badgerite says:

    I would say it clearly doesn’t. Just on the question of existence and standards controlling its operation alone. There are none. Then there is the question of peer review. Widespread acceptance in relevant scientific community? I doubt it.

  31. scottrose says:

    It is important further to expose Witherspoon because 1) It is ON the Princeton University campus though it is not actually a part of the university and its members interact with, and sometimes actually are, Princeton Faculty, with a result that the Princeton Board of Trustees wind up allowing faculty members to violate the university’s academic honor code (called “Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities.) This should not be going on at a university, but it is because Robert George, Luis Tellez and others attract a huge amount of filthy corruption money to the university and its environs; and 2) Witherspoon President Luis Tellez is a regional director of the Catholic Church’s secretive “Opus Dei” organization and a kingpin in the Church’s anti-LGBT strategies worldwide. He is carrying out evil anti-LGBT work for the Catholic Church under a charade that Witherspoon is separate from the Church’s political goals.

  32. scottrose says:

    The Supreme Court has addressed this; read about the Daubert Standard (for expert witness testimony) here:

  33. Badgerite says:

    Really good point.

  34. scottrose says:

    You are right that UT should fire Regnerus for cause. As a reference case, look up what happened to UT’s professor Charles Groat.

  35. scottrose says:

    Not to mention, his editor James Wright’s knowing publication of untruths from him, twice, and the fact that he let three non-specialists with conflicts of interest with both Regnerus and his anti-gay-rights funders do peer review. Beyond that, in the companion anti-gay hit piece from Loren Marks — which also is junk science, but is being used together with the Regnerus paper as an anti-gay political weapon — NOT A SINGLE LGBT-sciences-experienced person did peer review.

  36. Badgerite says:

    If this ‘study’ is excluded from being presented as evidence in a courtroom this is also a statement as to its credibility. Since the only reason to exclude it is that it is totally unscientific and untrue crap. If it is allowed in, the people who created it can be questioned as to methodology and origins, funding and design. All of which would probably lead to the court rejecting the study as unreliable in an evidentiary setting. There are certain standards involved in espistemology (what justifies your belief). And there are legal standards with respect to theory and belief as well. I don’t think this ‘study’ would meet them. I think the intolerant right would be back to square one, that is that there is no credible evidence to show a societal harm that would justify discrimination toward gays in anything.
    Actual, statistical studies that can show impacts are many years away.
    The right is taking advantage of that to literally fabricate evidence.

  37. scottrose says:

    The difference is that in Michigan, unlike in any other court prior to this case, Regnerus is being presented as a (supposed) “Expert Witness). The real issue here, legally, is whether his deliberately booby-trapped anti-gay fraud meets the Daubert Standard. Just honk a clown horn in his face.

  38. scottrose says:

    I’m not convinced that the Heritage Foundation is the main culprit, though it’s clear that it is one. The recent New York Times article referenced above doesn’t even mention the so-called National Organization for Marriage’s “Expert Witness Project,” of which Regnerus clearly is a part. Moreover, the Times only give the date for the Heritage meeting as “late in 2010” but the Regnerus “study” was kicking into action as early as August of 2010, which wouldn’t qualify for “late” in 2010. On September 22, 2010, Regnerus sent an e-mail to the Witherspoon Institute’s program director W. Bradford Wilcox telling him that he wanted to know more about (Witherspoon President) Luis (Tellez’s) and MAGGIE’s “hopes for what emerges from this project.” I don’t know how it could be any clearer that the NFSS came from Witherspoon/NOM and not from the Heritage Foundation, however much of an ally to NOM the Heritage Foundation might be.

  39. BeccaM says:

    It has been used many times.


    Sometimes it’s thrown out, as it was during Judge Vaugh Walker’s Prop 8 case, when the study was submitted as part of an amicus brief. Sometimes it’s believed, as it was in the Hawaii case a few years back upholding their then-existing ban on same-sex marriage.

    I don’t know why, but it seems like a lot of folks around here presume that truth always wins. It doesn’t, not always.

    And perjury and phony expert testimony doesn’t always result in contempt charges, not when the judge is also a homophobe. Even when he or she is fair-minded, such amicus submissions and ‘expert’ testimony are simply dismissed as irrelevant or deemed inadmissible to proceedings.

    The courts and their judges are not impartial truth-knowing gods who always do the right thing.

  40. Badgerite says:

    How can you do a study on the children of gay couples if you don’t include any gay couples? Or at least more than 2. That IS a neat trick. This is sad really. “A lie can get around the world twice before the truth gets its shoes on.” — seems to apply.
    And this ridiculous and unconscionable study is what the Russian Duma takes away from American’s recent court cases and decisions and electoral wins with respect to gay rights? This bullshit! Does one need to mention again all the creative and brilliant people in recent history who were gay. We won’t even get into the rumored life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Tchaikovsky, etc. Just recently.

  41. BeccaM says:

    I came to the “not tool” conclusion when I learned Regnerus and Wilcox traveled on the Witherspoon dime to meet with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton in 2011. A conclusion confirmed when I later read that Regnerus and Marks were sharing their as-yet-unpublished papers with each other and with anti-gay hate groups.

  42. Houndentenor says:

    What about those who continue to cite it after it has been repeatedly shown to be a fraud?

  43. Badgerite says:

    I imagine the intolerant right noticed that minor flaw in their court case involving failure to show actual societal interest in discriminating against gay couples wanting to marry and decided to fill in the gap with anything they could.

  44. Badgerite says:

    No, but you could pick him, his funding source and his ‘methodology’ ( hahahaha) apart on the stand, for sure.

  45. Badgerite says:

    Both right. He is not just a tool and Heritage is behind it via its funding and promotion. Target both.

  46. Badgerite says:

    Oh please, please, let someone use this ‘study’ of his in a court case to try to support this bullshit. Oh puleeezzzz.

  47. Badgerite says:

    Exactly. These studies will materialize over time. And the truth will come out. But in the meantime—–. It will take time for kids of today to grow up and that is what the Re-whathisnames of the world take advantage of. But the methodology as you described it in one of your links is simply ridiculous. A three year old could debunk it. Do people even read his ‘study’ or do they just read the conclusions? I mean really. This guy is like, “I’m gonna take a hose and spray water all over your driveway and tell you it rained. Don’t worry. It’s really scientific.” Anyway, very good post. This needs to be fought back against. Give em hell.

  48. BeccaM says:

    No, because all Regnerus has to do is claim it’s not his responsibility as to how the study is used or presented in legal proceedings.

  49. BeccaM says:

    He’s not just a tool. He was a willing and indeed eager accomplice all along.

  50. Houndentenor says:

    I realize that part. But knowingly creating a study to mislead the court isn’t illegal? Knowingly referencing a study shown to be wrong in a legal brief isn’t an ethical violation? I don’t see how this is any different than perjury. I guess legally it could be, but if so the law needs to be changed.

  51. BeccaM says:

    It’s a breach of scientific ethics, but it’s not illegal.

  52. BeccaM says:

    Regnerus, early on, admitted the study didn’t actually include gay couples. But in recent years, the mask has slipped and he now openly advocates his flawed paper’s results.

  53. BeccaM says:

    That’s just the thing. There have been studies showing that on average, gay and lesbian parents are no worse than hetero parents — provided all other control measures have been met. And also acknowledging that right now, it’s nearly impossible to perform a fully controlled life-long birth-to-18 outcomes study because same sex marriage has only been legal in one state (MA) since 2004.

    So far, the honest results have been that gay and lesbian parents tend to do a little better than heteros because their children are almost always planned and sought for, whereas heteros are plagued by the possibility of unplanned pregnancies.

    But as Naja Pallida points out up-thread, it’s almost like the way the tobacco companies would commission their own biased studies and try to present them as fact.

  54. BeccaM says:

    It wasn’t shopped around. W. Bradford Wilcox was involved in arranging for the study to be done in the first place and helped to coordinate the funding via the Witherspoon Institutte and Bradley Foundation.

    Wilcox was also on the editorial review board for Social Science Research, a breach of scientific ethics. It was a foregone conclusion the paper would go to SSR, also in part because the journal is one of thousands owned by Elsevier, the journal-publishing behemoth known for rewarding its senior editors/producers not based on the value of their published research but on volume and downloads, known as ‘impact factor.’ A study, however flawed, purporting to show gays and lesbians were lousy parents would generate millions of dollars for Elsevier.

    And the senior editor for SSR, Dr. James Wright, was open to the idea. Scott Rose over at Lez Get Real tracked down all of the peer reviewers for Regnerus’ paper and learned that every one of them either had no experience in LGBT sociology and/or blatant conflicts of interest.

    In short, the deck was stacked even before Regnerus finished his act of scientific malpractice.

  55. BeccaM says:

    One thing I noticed early on in published interviews was that Mark Regnerus tried to put on airs of neutrality and objectivity, as if he was just a researcher who happened to decided to look into gay/lesbian family outcomes versus hetero. Mostly he just tried (ineffectually) to defend his research methods and sample selection.

    In the years since then, he’s gradually become more blatant about embracing his inner homophobic bigot. He no longer answers questions about why he considered someone gay if they had just one same-sex encounter or short-term relationship during a child’s entire 18 year upbringing. Or why he felt it appropriate to compare stable two-parent hetero marriages with single-parent gay/lesbian headed families. Or why he implied in his conclusions it was sexual orientation and not (1) being an economically-disadvantaged female and (2) not be able to avail of legal protections and benefits of being married that caused lesbian-headed families to look worse than other families.

    In other words, at first he just tried to play the hapless researcher, having no particular feelings about the outcome of his study. But now he advocates openly for the foregone conclusions the study was intended to reach all along, speaking at anti-gay conferences and events. And making it abundantly clear where he biases lie.

  56. Naja pallida says:

    Not doing themselves any favors, but the entire teabagger movement itself is entirely corporate funded. Led by lobbyists, and populated by useful idiots who have no idea what they’re actually supporting – but are happy to yell about it, really loudly.

  57. pliny says:

    Regnerus is just a tool. One that the rest of his profession clearly sees as a shill now. If anyone should be made to (metaphorically!) suffer for this, it’s Heritage.

    If there’s a press strategy to be had here, it’s that Heritage knows that they can only win by lying.

  58. Naja pallida says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I believe we actually do want him to testify as an expert witness. If he discusses the methodology of his “study” in his testimony at all, that immediately brings all of the documentation and notes he used in the course of working on the study into discovery. It could possibly bring up new evidence of how he cooked it up, why he cooked it up, and who paid him to do so. Assuming the opposition legal team has any inclination to actually delve into discrediting him.

  59. Bill_Perdue says:

    Thanks for the background.

  60. chris10858 says:

    Agreed. If he is called as an expert witness, then our side must first use every bit of ammunition it has to bring to light the truth about his shoddy research methods, conclusions and personal biases.

  61. chris10858 says:

    I think the LGBT community and our groups need to go after this guy om a professional level. First of all, we need to ask why UT – Austin still allows a discredited researcher to be employed and to teath there? It is one thing to have academic freedom BUT when you blatantly publish bad data using poor and biased research methods, your academic and professional credentials should be challenged. If I were a graduate student and had tried to submit his report as a research project, I’m sure I would be laughed out of grad school.

    Secondly, we need to get the media and LGBT groups to refer to him as “discredited, anti-gay researcher” Regnerus whenever they speak about him.

  62. Naja pallida says:

    The Heritage Foundation traces it’s origins directly to the court cases against the tobacco industry in the early 1970s. Corporate America’s response to having to admit their culpability in killing people was to create a whole bunch of “think tanks”, to literally steer public policy to further their fascist goals. Corporations can donate all the money they want anonymously, to hide their involvement, and put people with fancy academic letters after their names in charge, to give a nice facade of legitimacy. It’s no coincidence that ALEC was founded at about the same time. Their goals are exactly the same, they just chose different methods of attaining them.

  63. Naja pallida says:

    Not just testify, but also doctor up expensive and extensive scientific studies, that look legitimate at a glance, and sound great to people who haven’t the first clue about the topic (like politicians), but crumble under even the most rudimentary of peer-review scrutiny. By the time their “studies” are discredited, the damage is done.

  64. nicho says:

    They should probably ban the Catholic Church.

  65. nicho says:

    Exactly. There are hundreds of PhDs for hire who will testify to almost anything — for enough money.

  66. Naja pallida says:

    The tobacco, pharmaceutical and oil industries have been doing it for decades. Hasn’t really slowed them down any.

  67. Houndentenor says:

    Is it possible that this is legal? To commission a “study” that distorts reality for the purposes of misleading judges hearing lawsuits isn’t a crime? Perjury? Anything?

  68. Bill_Perdue says:

    Good point. These are the same people who came up with Obamacare. They’re irredeemably right wing and homophobic. http://aravosis.wpengine.com/2013/10/original-1989-document-heritage-foundation-created-obamacares-individual-mandate.html

  69. rmthunter says:

    I hadn’t realized I was defending Heritage — that certainly wasn’t my intent.

    As for Witherspoon, it’s not all that important that they be recognized as a major player — what’s important is that they are known as a right-wing organization that was the operator in the Regnerus study, which is enough to cast the study as politically motivated in itself. The fact that it’s crap science is sort of given, after that.

  70. Sorry, I beg to differ. Nobody knows or cares what the Witherspoon Institute is. Everyone in the world knows what the Republican party is. And on a scale of 1 to 10, the Witherspoon Institute couldnt’ care less that someone exposed their involvement. The GOP, on the other hand, is cringing right now, because yet again their undying need to hurt people, something that is causing serious damage to their party’s future prospects, has been exposed.

    As for your defense of Heritage, I’ll leave it to Heritage to defend themselves :)

  71. Ah ok, thanks – just updated the story.

  72. rmthunter says:

    The part that’s new is the Heritage Foundation’s involvement, although to start calling it “the Heritage Foundation’s Regnerus study” is a bit much. We already knew that the thing was politically motivated junk science, bought and paid for by the Witherspoon Institute after they shopped around for a researcher to do it. That they were acting as an agent of Heritage is only a matter of degree, not kind: we’re still dealing with propaganda from the anti-gay right.

    It does help, though, to know that Heritage is behind all the junk science on gay parenting.

  73. StraightGrandmother says:

    Actuall it is NOT old news. We knew that there was a meeting in DC but we did not know much beyond that.
    We now know that Heritage Foundation set up meetings and conference calls in order to create Anti gay Social Sceince Studies to be used in Court.
    We have never had this connection showing Maggie Gallagher and the Heritage Foundation were behind ALL the anti gay research. And I am right when I say ALL of it.
    There is not one single anti gay study where the researchers did NOT attend the Heritage Maggie Gallagher meetings.

  74. Fred says:

    I’m not objecting to Regnerus being called to testify, but I do object to him being called an “expert witness”. As I understand it an expert witness’s testimony carries more weight in the court than a regular witness’s.

    Treating Regnerus as an expert gives him more credibility than he deserves, and it cheapens the testimony of genuine experts.

  75. rerutled says:

    I haven’t seen the study – but if the argument is that the suicide rate (for example) of people who spent some time being parented by a gay couple is higher than if they were not, then the study’s authors should respond to the Center for Disease Control’s statistics on suicide by race, which says that white people have 2-3x the suicide rate of black people. This is a statistically justified conclusion, by the way, which is not controversial in its methods (and therefore conclusions), unlike the Regnurus study.

    Do the study’s authors suggest, therefore, to not permit white couples to raise children, deny white couples marriage certificates, dissolve their existing marriages, confiscate white couples’ children and to put them into safer homes with two black parents? http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/rates02.html

    No, they are not. I can’t guess why.

  76. rhabyt says:

    Minor Error in the 4th paragraph (right after the NYT quote). You say it was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it was actually in Social Science Research. The Chronicle (which isn’t a peer reviewed journal, more of a weekly newspaper for higher education) did the investigative journalism and publicized the corrupt peer review at Social Science Research.

  77. Ninja0980 says:

    Here’s hoping our side is on the ball for the trial this week.
    This POS needs to be throughly and totally humilated and discredited once and for all.

  78. MichaelS says:

    Isn’t it about time for the left to conduct a study showing how harmful NOM and other right-wing organizations are to children’s welfare?…

  79. MyrddinWilt says:

    I would like to know how many places the ‘study’ was shopped before it got published. This does not look like material for the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

  80. cole3244 says:

    i would like to see a study on rw religious families and the impact they have on raising their offspring with the only emotion available hate, that must have a detrimental effect on those children and the society as a whole in spreading the agenda of bigotry that seems to be the only mission the conservatives have at their disposal.

  81. bkmn says:

    Agree wholeheartedly. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Gonna need a whole lotta sunshine for all the sh*t that comes out of Regnerus et al.

  82. olandp says:

    I don’t see why the objection to Regnerus testimony. He will be under oath, his credibility can be destroyed once and for all. When George Rekers testified in the Florida adoption case the judge ripped him to shreds in her opinion, the rest is history.

  83. Badgerite says:

    Doctor of Sociology?
    The cure for a bad study is a good study. Maybe the NIH should do a study of its own with those “rigorous standards” that Regnerus found so difficult to abide by.
    Every court that has had a chance to look at real sociological evidence has found the conclusions of his ‘study’ to be total bunk. I don’t suppose they notice abroad, that no court in America has accepted or relied on this ‘study’?

  84. rmthunter says:

    This is actually old news, but it’s nice that the Grey Lady finally noticed it.

    In point of fact, the study itself doesn’t say anything about children raised by gay couples, which Regnerus himself finally admitted (in an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, no less). The main flaw is not that it doesn’t include subjects who were raised by gay parents (there were two, actually, not a statistically significant number), but that the methodology was junk from the ground up.

    Scott Rose did a series of posts at The New Civil Rights Movement at the time that uncovered a lot of the conflicts of interest throughout the process of the study and its dissemination, including that the Witherspoon Institute went shopping around for a researcher, gave Regnerus a planning grant, approved the study design, then provided major funding and one of their own people to do data analysis. (When asked why he hadn’t approached NIMH or NIH for funding, which would be the normal first recourse, Regnerus replied that their criteria were very stringent. Tells you something right there.) One of the common denominators is Robert P. George, whom no one is going to mistake for a balanced commentator.

    The fact that it’s been completely discredited by people who actually know what they’re talking about hasn’t stopped the anti-gay right from touting it worldwide. I’m glad that the plaintiffs in the Michigan case have filed a motion that Regnerus be excluded as an expert witness — maybe that will start to have some effect, but I doubt it. The cranks are still citing Paul Cameron’s “research” (although I notice they don’t mention him by name any more).

  85. Henry Owen says:

    Garbage in, garbage out, and the republicans are more than willing to spread it around the world.

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