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Topics In the News
Judge Orders Release of More Regnerus Documents
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/13/13
Last updated on: 11/13/13
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John Becker filed the lawsuit that prompted the release.

A ruling released on November 12, 2013 by a Florida state judge ordered that the University of Central Florida, where the journal Social Science Research is edited by James Wright, must release records related to the publication of the fraudulent study by Mark Regnerus that purported to prove that gay and lesbian parents were dramatically less capable than heterosexual parents. Orange County Circuit Judge Donald Grincewicz ruled that emails and documents possessed by the University of Central Florida related to the flawed study's peer-review process must be turned over to blogger and activist John Becker, who sought the documents under Florida's Public Records Act.

The litigation to acquire the records was funded by the Human Rights Campaign, which reports on the ruling at its blog.

Regnerus's article entitled "How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-sex Relationships? Findings from the New Families Structure Study," published in June 2012 in Social Science Research, purported to prove that children of gay and lesbian parents have adverse outcomes. It claimed to find "numerous, consistent differences, especially between children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents." It attempted to debunk established scientific research that has consistently shown that gay and lesbian parents exhibit parenting skills equal to heterosexual parents.

Critics immediately pointed out that Regnerus does not compare "same-sex families" and "opposite-sex families." Rather, as John Corvino put it, he compares broken families to intact families and pretends that he has discovered something significant when he announces that children of intact families do better on a number of measures than children of broken families.

Regnerus asked adults between ages 18 and 39 whether their mothers or fathers had ever had a same-sex relationship, regardless of the duration of the relationship and "regardless of any other household transitions." Regnerus' "Lesbian Mother" and "Gay Father" categories (unlike the "Intact Biological Family" category) included children of adoptive parents, step-parents, single parents, and, notably, a large number of divorced parents.

The study, intentionally designed to compare apples and oranges, tells us nothing about the parenting skills of same-sex parents. Indeed, the huge majority of the children of parents who had a same-sex relationship at some time in their lives studied by Regnerus never actually lived in a same-sex headed household.

Regnerus's study was published under highly questionable circumstances. Funded to the tune of more than $700,000 by the Witherspoon Foundation, an anti-gay group closely aligned with the National Organization for Marriage, it was almost immediately accepted for publication and rushed into print.

Documents obtained earlier this year by The American Independent from the University of Texas through the Freedom of Information Act confirmed long-held suspicions the study was funded specifically to impugn the parenting skills of same-sex couples in judicial proceedings, especially those expected to come before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8. Those documents revealed how the Witherspoon Institute enlisted Regnerus to undertake the study in order to influence anticipated Supreme Court deliberations on same-sex marriage. Anti-gay activists were desperate to have a "peer-reviewed" scholarly paper to cite in court filings.

As I observed in June 2012 in a blog here, "this article, dressed up in the accoutrement of scholarship, was never intended to be real scholarship. It is, rather, just another desperate attempt to smear gay and lesbian parents and thereby provide a 'rational' justification to deny equal marriage rights."

As more documents are brought to light, they will, I suspect, make clear that not only did Regnerus engage in despicably unethical conduct in creating his junk science, but that editor James Wright was complicit in the fraud. These documents are likely to reveal that the peer-review process through which the article was accepted for publication was rigged from the beginning.

Although Regnerus's study seems to have had minimal effect on the Supreme Court deliberations, it has been cited repeatedly by anti-gay activists both in the United States and abroad. As Dan Rafter of the Human Rights Campaign observes, "Regnerus' faulty research has been most damaging in Russia--where it has been used as evidence for archaic and damaging legislation that criminalized 'homosexual propaganda' in the country and banned the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and individuals living in countries with marriage equality. It even was used to support proposed legislation that would allow the Russian state to remove children from an LGBT parent or someone assumed to be LGBT."

A copy of Judge Grincewicz's ruling may be found here


In the video below, John Corvino debunks the Regnerus study.

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