Thursday, July 12, 2012

Did author of anti-gay study collude with religious right groups?

Did Mark Regnerus collude with the religious right?
Those of us who have been saying for a while now that the Mark Regnerus study on gay parenting was bought and paid for by religious right groups now have a bit more proof of that charge thanks to an Advocate article.

The article points out that the study - in spite of the complaints about its fraudulence (over 200 professors and therapists complained about it) - has been cited in a federal court case defending DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

And the time between when the study was published and when it was submitted in a brief should raise many eyebrows (emphasis added) :

Just one day after the results of a controversial parenting study were released to the public, the research was used — and misrepresented — in a federal court brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The brief was filed by a conservative medical group at the urging of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential religious right legal organization. It illustrates the right’s strategy of using the new research — which was funded by two conservative organizations — in legal battles to preserve bans on gay marriage.

On June 10, the journal Social Science Research published the findings of University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus’ “New Family Structures Study,” which compared people raised in biologically intact two-parent families to people raised in families in which one of the parents had a same-sex romantic relationship at some point. Regnerus found that the children of parents who had a same-sex relationship fared poorly by comparison. Almost immediately, the study was criticized for using a “loaded classification system” to engage in an apples-to-oranges comparison.

The day after Regnerus’ study first appeared online, a conservative group called the American College of Pediatricians cited it in a “friend of the court” brief in Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, one of the ongoing federal lawsuits challenging DOMA. The ACP’s use of the study was first reported on The New Civil Rights Movement website.

Unfortunately the article didn't go into detail regarding the American College of Pediatricians as it should have. But I have talked about this group several times and do not mind exposing them again.

The American College of Pediatricans is not a legitimate organization. It is a shell group designed to pass along anti-gay junk science as fact. In 2010, it attempted to pass along a junk science brochure in high school across America. The brochure, Facts About Youth, claimed to present "facts" supposedly not tainted by "political correctness."  Of course these were not facts, but ugly distortions about the gay community, including:

Some gay men sexualize human waste, including the medically dangerous practice of coprophilia, which means sexual contact with highly infectious fecal wastes.

Isn't it convenient that this group was able to get their hands on this study and submit it in a brief a day after it was published? Could there have been some collusion between Regnerus, the American College of Pediatricians, and the Alliance Defending Freedom?

It certainly seems that way.

I have written many posts like this one exposing religious right lies and for those familiar with these posts, this is the point where I generally make a plea to the mainstream medical organizations and the media to please do something to stop the ease in which religious right group are able to distort science for their own benefit.

I'm glad to report that this time I don't have to make that plea because prominent medical organizations have in fact called out ACP's brief and Regnerus' study in a brief of their own.

According to Think Progress:

The nation’s major mental health organizations have filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit case Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act stigmatizes against gays and lesbians and should be overturned. The brief recounts the scientific evidence that explains the nature of sexual orientations, but also takes time to debunk Mark Regnerus’ flawed study that attempts to draw negative conclusions about gay parents. Proponents of DOMA have already used the paper to defend their arguments, but the medical professionals explain why it should be ignored.

These organizations include the American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers and its California chapter, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychoanalytic Association.

So that's one problem taken care of. But there is still the big question which needs to be asked of Regnerus continuously until he provides an answer.

Just how much did he collude with anti-gay and religious right organizations in the publishing of his study?

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Scott Rose said...

Do begin to understand what really went on between Regnerus and The Witherspoon Institute/NOM, we need full documentation of communications between them. Of urgent first importance are all communications between them between the time that the first considered such commissioned political propaganda, through to the time that Witherspoon gave Regnerus $55K as a "planning grant," and then through to the time that Witherspoon approved Regnerus's study plan and gave him full funding. I and, separately, the Amercan Independent have made Public Information Act and FOIA requests; according to the American Independent, UT has asked the Texas AG for authorization not to release the documentation while UT's inquiry into Regnerus is in process. That doesn't mean that Witherspoon, Regnerus and UT could not release the documentation if they felt like it, in the interest of transparency. Others should consider making full document requests in this matter. UT is a publicly-funded school; the public has an interest in knowing about how it is working. On the UT side, I find especially curious that their Internal Review Board approved this study plan. A person with knowledge of the field would look and say "You are not going to reach adequate numbers of your stated target demographic by this means." Remember that the UT system is overseen by the Regents, who were appointed by Rick Perry.

jay lassiter said...

so why not include a link to the Advocate article you reference in the first sentence?

btw, if you moderate all your comments why bother with the goofy key code we all have to type in to "prove we're not a robot?" kind of an undue hurdle for folks to have a dialogue with you.

BlackTsunami said...


thank you for the catch. I inadvertently forgot to put the Advocate link in. It is added now. However, as for the code key, it is necessary. You wouldn't believe the amount of spam sent to my blog.

Aggie Cowboy said...

It would also be good to know how it passed the journal peer-review process. The methodology alone should have been grounds for rejection. Granted Social Science Research only has an 2011 impact factor (IF) of 1.273 which puts it on a lower tier. What's even more curious is the 5-year IF of 1.99 (basically, an average over 5 years). SSR has seen a significant drop in IF, so someone's running it into the ground...and it's not like SSR is a vanity journal.

Anonymous said...

This whole series of events has NOM's fingerprints all over it. That memo that leaked a while back, the one that said they should drive a wedge between the LGBT and African-American communities? Well it also said they should find credible people to bolster their views.

scripture refiner's fire said...

Loren Mark's study agrees with the Regnarus study:

Loren Marks, "Same-sex parenting and children's outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association's brief on lesbian and gay parenting," Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4 (July 2012), pp. 735-751

It's commonly known among sociologists that biological parents are less likely to abuse their children than a step-parent or partner -- the Cinderella syndrome as it were. In a gay marriage there will always be at least one parent that is non-biological. The conclusion on child-abuse is obvious.

BlackTsunami said...

Nice try, but you just drew a conclusion which does not exist. Furthermore, you failed to reveal that Marks did not create a study but "reviewed" work from credible researchers. You also failed to note that Marks published her "review" as a companion piece to Regnerus's work and both are affiliated with the same groups attempting to stymie marriage equality.