Today at Witherspoon’s Public Discourse, Matthew Franck publishes the second of his two pieces on the Regnerus study, this one called “The Vindication of Mark Regnerus.” The piece is well titled, because what Franck offers here is not an analysis of the study as much as simple, full-throated cheerleading.
Franck does report that Regnerus has responded to his critics in the November issue of Social Science Research. Much of Franck’s article appears to be based on this response — he purports to sumarize it and quotes from it extensively — but he doesn’t link to the article itself, and I cannot find it online. (Does anyone out there have a copy?) So for me it’s hard to know what to make of some of what Franck says, absent the ability to read the actual article he is discussing.
Franck stresses, as Regnerus has all along, and as he apparently does again (with some new analyses of the study’s data) in this new article, the fact that young adults who report that a parent had a same-sex romantic relationship seem to have experienced a great deal of family turmoil and instability, and appear to have suffered negative consequences as a result. This is important. When I first heard Mark Regnerus summarize his findings, at a luncheon when his article first appeared, that was the very thing that struck me most forcefully: These young people appear to have experienced very high and apparently harmful levels of family instability. I believed then, and continue to believe now, that if Regnerus has built his original article around this set of findings, and had explored those findings carefully and sensitively, and had not gotten himself into the mess about calling what he was looking at a “new family structure,” he would have made a valuable contribution to the field, and would likely have avoided at least some (certainly not all, probably not even most) of the the public criticism that in fact he has endured. He certainly would have avoided MY criticism.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, he did, as a centerpiece of his approach, get into the mess of labeling this phenomenon a “family structure” that can be validly compared and contrasted to other “family structures.” That’s the issue that’s of such concern.
Yet in Franck’s telling of the story, all of this is a complete non-issue, just one more unfair attack on bullet-proof scholarship. In fact, it seems to me that Franck himself does not really understand what is being alleged here; in today’s article (and in yesterday’s), he, Franck, seems to think that Regnerus’ critics are mainly exercised over issues such as whether to say “lesbian mother” or “mother who had a lesbian relationship” — issues which, to me at least, hardly matter and certainly do not touch upon the real problem.
What matters to me — the main and nearly only thing that matters to me — is whether in a study of ”new family structures,” the fact that your mother had a same-sex romantic relationship when you were growing up constitutes a “family structure.” I (and many others) say that it absolutely does not. Franck does not seem to recognize the question. I’m not sure if Mark does, or does not, in his new article, which I look forward to reading as soon as it’s available.