Since Mark Regnerus’s flawed study was released, we in the LGBT activist community have been working hard to expose Regnerus’s flawed methods, made-up results and ideologically-driven agenda. However, now that Regnerus has been called as an “expert” to testify against marriage equality and joint adoption in Michigan, the media has perked up and taken notice of what we’ve been saying all these years. Regnerus’s own University of Texas helped this process along, releasing a statement this week distancing their fine academic work from Regnerus’s opinions. Alvin McEwen notes that Michigan media has been paying attention, as one can see in this article from the Detroit Free Press:
On the day he debuted as the star witness in defense of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, a University of Texas sociologist was denounced by his employer for peddling junk science.
“Dr. (Mark) Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department at the University of Texas,” department chairwoman Christine Williams said in a statement timed to coincide with her subordinate’s testimony before U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman.
Williams noted that Regnerus’ conclusions about same-sex parents had been similarly rejected by the 14,000-member American Sociological Association, which decreed that Regnerus’ research was “fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds.”
Under cross-examination Tuesday, Regnerus stoically acknowledged the sting of his peers’ disavowal.
“It’s regrettable,” he said, looking like the last kid left standing against the schoolhouse wall after his classmates had chosen teams for a pick-up game. “I guess they just want to distance themselves from me.”
That’s the beginning of the article. And yes, indeed, real researchers want to be as far from Mark Regnerus as they possibly can.
For any unfamiliar with the shoddy work and questionable character that are the hallmarks of Regnerus’s career should read Nathaniel Frank’s extensive takedown, also published this week at Slate:
Regnerus’ article made waves because it appeared to buck the trend of three decades of research showing kids with gay parents fare just as well as others. In his study and accompanying articles—including one Regnerus wrote for Slate—he touted his large, nationally representative sample size, which he said trumped the quality of research of the numerous prior studies finding that the kids are all right.
There’s one problem: Regnerus’ research doesn’t show what he says it does. Not remotely. No research ever has. Yet Regnerus, unchastened by a chorus of professional criticism correctly pointing out the obvious flaws in his work—including a formal reprimand in an audit assigned by the journal that published his piece—continues to make these groundless claims, knowing full well they are baseless. What’s worse, his role in the Michigan case is not just to oppose same-sex marriage but to argue against two-parent adoption, a position that works to keep children from having the stable, two-parent families conservatives have championed for decades. Blocking gay equality has totally trounced any alleged concern for children’s wellbeing.
Much has been written on Regnerus’ discredited study, so I’ll just summarize the single most obvious reason it’s bunk. Regnerus claims to have evaluated outcomes of children “of same-sex parents” and found results are “suboptimal” when compared to children reared by their biological parents. The study claims that, unlike other research that relies on smaller samples, “meaningful statistical inferences and interpretations can be drawn” from his data, and they show that “the optimal childrearing environment” is one where kids are raised by their biological parents.
The claim sounds reasonable enough. But since Regnerus never actually studied “children of same-sex parents,” as he claims, his conclusions are equivalent to calling a 747 the fastest plane without ever testing the Concorde.
Read every bit of Nathaniel’s piece. Welcome to the national spotlight, Mark.
Regnerus may be fully aware that he’s throwing his professional career away, because he knows that he won’t go hungry now that he’s on the wingnut welfare circuit, with hate groups that will both pay for pretend research and hold him up as a martyr in the face of those godless liberal secularists who value things like facts and real research over religion-based bigotry. I hope he’s happy with his choice.