“The vindication of Mark Regnerus”

10.31.2012, 11:16 AM

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.


35 Responses to ““The vindication of Mark Regnerus””

  1. Tristian says:

    Regnerus’ response is available online, but it’s behind the journal’s pay wall–yours for 30 bucks or so. I did read it last night, and Franck gives a fair summary. Regarding comparing the newly dubbed MLR and FGR families to intact biological families, Regnerus is essentially making the argument I started making yesterday before I read his most recent article. So I guess I have to say I think he has a point.

  2. Maggie Gallagher says:

    David, I understand the point you are making but it leaves me with a question only you can answer. “having a parent with a same-sex romantic relationship” is not in your view a family structure. Is it also true in your view that having a gay parent is not a family structure? In other words its illegitimate or wrong in your view to include sexual orientation as a family structure while correct to include gender? (i.e. single fathers are a family structure, single mothers are a family structure, single mother living with a guay are a family structure, single gay fathers are not a family structure?)

    This is a genuine question not a critique. I”m considering doing a longer piece on what the NFSS adds to the existing gay parenting literature and want to make sure I understand your critique.

  3. NOM is on the Franck piece like white on rice. National Organization for Marriage has two objectives; 1) To portray Regnerus as a victim of “the elites” and; 2) to suggest that this study has something to do with equal marriage.

    Sometimes I think about all of the time and money down the crapper to keeping a few gay people from getting hitched and how those resources could be better invested. The end of civilization as we know it is far more likely to come from global warming than gay marriage.

  4. Maggie, does the study compare children of single lesbian parent with children of a single mother?

  5. Maggie Gallagher says:

    The study compares children in like eight different family situations, not sure if all qualify as a structure, in David’s use of the term. Apparently in the latest Social Science Journal, Regnerus slices up the data into more family situations.

    The category “adult children with a mom who had a lesbian romance” would include solo lesbian moms from birth, two lesbian moms from birth, divorced moms who had a lesbian romance and single moms who later had a lesbian romance.

    The data does allow you to distinguish these amazingly because its designed to establish who lived with whom for how long, and its now a public dataset.

    But to get large enough dataset to separate all these in a way that permits statistically significant conclusions to be drawn would require serious government money.

    David’s critique as to methodology is in my view mistaken. The methodology is carefully done to permit distinguishing all sort of family structures. The problem is some of these family structures are so rare they cannot be reported in meaningful ways.

    His error may be in labelling this a family structure study, but its a significant contribution to the existing literature which is weak beyond measure. One study seldom resolves a social science debate. I think its fair to say the “no differences” hypothesis has been significantly challenged. Future research needs to use probability samples to resolve this.

  6. Maggie Gallagher says:

    When I say “his error” above I mean “Regnerus’ error”, not David’s.

  7. Diane M says:

    Thank you, David Blankenhorn. I am appalled by Franck’s article and trying to control my temper.

    Two quick points about the article:

    Franck “To go on an endless search for a sizable random sample of long-term, stable same-sex couples raising children is to miss the social reality in front of us, namely that they are conspicuously missing from the lives of children whose parents have same-sex relationships.”

    And why is that? Have they completely forgotten the past 20-40 years? How people were and are afraid to be lesbian or gay and so ended up dating and marrying people of the opposite sex? How same sex marriage was completely illegal back then? How adoption was and is harder for same sex couples?

    Franck – “Multiple studies show that same-sex couples, particularly lesbians, divorce at higher rates where marriage is available to them, and stay together for shorter periods.” What can this be based on? Where is marriage legal and for how long has anyone been able to get it? And if you are comparing people staying together, are you comparing them to straight couples who date and break up or just marriage partners?

    and Regnerus – “the probability-based evidence that exists . . . suggests that the biologically-intact two-parent household remains an optimal setting for the long-term flourishing of children.”

    A biological two-parent household where one parent is gay or lesbian is NOT optimal for children. Ever. This is where you get the people who had affairs.

    Arg!!!!!!

  8. Kevin says:

    It’s already been noted here, and elsewhere, how flawed Mr. Regnerus’ conclusions are about the influence of sexual orientation on parenting. It seems odd that it’s still being discussed although I suspect that Witherspoon is trying to salvage it as best they can.

    Regnerus revealed his intentions in his SSR article when he said he could not accept all the previous studies that pronounced that gay people parent no better, or worse, than straight people. The question is, why would he be suspicious of these previous studies, since they merely reinforce common sense: who you’re romantically attracted to has nothing to do with your parenting skills.

    “I think its fair to say the “no differences” hypothesis has been significantly challenged.”

    It may be fair to say it, but it’s highly unsupported by evidence. There is no rational reason to believe that sexual orientation has an influence on parenting skills, and therefore on outcomes for children. That notion stems from either a homophobic belief, or a straight supremacist belief. And it is completely unsound to ignore the influence of a marital breakup on a child, and attribute negative outcomes to the sexual orientation of the parent. Regnerus ignores both the breakup of the marriage and the fact that one or both parents had affairs as having any influence on the child.

    That’s bizarre, and that’s why he finds himself and his study under attack. At this point, a more interesting scholarly discussion would be something along the lines of “Does one’s sexual orientation affect one’s ability to parent, and if so, who and why?”

  9. Maggie Gallagher says:

    Kevin, you are simply not engaging in the actual issue.

    Without a probability sample, one cannot say how representative the children in the study are of children in this family situation generally.

    There is not a single study that looks at a nationally representative sample of children born into a same-sex couple headed family and follows them to adulthood and looks at how they compare to children in other family structures/situations on a variety of measures known to be influenced by family structure. (Patterson’s analysis of the Add-Health data, and Rosenfield’s look at Census data come closest. Rosenfield tosses out 40 percent of the Census data by excluding children in an SS parent who moved in the last 5 years. Patterson looks at children living with an ss couple in adolescence, probably not raised from birth and finds “no difference” with the typical child, which includes a lot of children in broken homes.)

    How big a problem is the lack of a probability sample? Well I tell people, if I were a lesbian mom and my people were in the middle of a great civil rights problem, and my kids were in trouble, would I volunteer to enter or remain in a study of gay parenting? I wouldn’t. Why would I expect lesbian moms to?

    And we have literally zero scientific data on gay fathering.

    As to why romantic inclinations would affect parenting, one could come up with many hypothesis, including that men parent differently when influenced by women than when influenced by men (and vice versa).

    Basically the amount of data it takes to confirm a hypothesis cherished by cultural elites is really thin, comparatively speaking. Over my comments limit now.

  10. Kevin says:

    Oops, how and why.

  11. Hi, Maggie.

    Is it also true in your view that having a gay parent is not a family structure? In other words its illegitimate or wrong in your view to include sexual orientation as a family structure while correct to include gender? (i.e. single fathers are a family structure, single mothers are a family structure, single mother living with a guay are a family structure, single gay fathers are not a family structure?)

    To me, the foundational question when it comes to “family structure” is, Who do you live with?

    Therefore:

    A home headed by a single father is a family structure, because for the child the answer to the question is, I live with my father.

    A home headed by a single mother is a family structure, because for the child the answer is, I live with my mother.

    A home headed by a married couple who are bio parents together is a family structure, because for the child the answer to the question is, I live with my mother and father.

    So (per your question) I am not concerned here about the correctness or incorrectness of asking about “gender.” My foundational question is, remains, will never be other than, who do you live with?, and then of course we can go from there — e.g., if you don’t live with your father, how often do you see your father, etc. (And this is not just me, of course; this is Census Bureau 101; this is absolutely standard in the social sciences, as far as I can tell.)

    Now, to me, none of this changes if we bring in the issues of, is your father gay?, is your mother a lesbian?, etc. I still start by asking, who do you live with?; who did you live with when you were little?, etc. THESE ARE FAMILY STRUCTURE QUESTIONS.

    On the other hand:

    Did you mother ever win the lottery? is not determinative of a family structure.

    Did your father ever suffer from alcholism? is not determinative of a family structure.

    Did your mother ever have an affair with a woman (or a man)? is not determinative of a family structure.

    Why? Because in all of these instances, I have departed from my core qestion (Who do/did you live with?) and have instead (wrongly, improperly, falsely) started insisting that certain life experiences or life episodes for a parent (winning the lottery, getting sick, having a love affair) are the bases on which we can establish the child’s “family structure.” It simply can’t be done that way; that’s what Mark tried to do; that’s why the fuss.

    (I’m sorry if I seem to be repeating myself, and beating this one horse to death; I am just trying to make as clear as possible what I have long thought was already quite clear among scholars.)

    OK. What if, for the child, the answer to our foundational question is:

    For a while I lived with my mother and father, and after my parents divorced I lived with my mother, and after that I lived with my mother and her female lover, and after that I lived with my mother and another female lover, and after that I lived with my mother, and after than I lived with my mother and the woman she married, and after than I moved in with my father, and after that I ran away from home, and after that I moved back in with my mother and her wife.

    It seems to me that, in such a case, the informant has provided a lot of information about family strucuture. Now, in providing this FAMILY STRUCTURE information, the informant has included a rich amount of perfectly relevant, useful (to the researcher) information on issue related to homosexuality, heterosexuality, and sexual orientation — information that surely matters, and would surely naturally emerge, in any analysis of family structure involving this particular child or other children with similar family structure experiences. So yes, in such cases, the research is obviously, necessarily, naturally, validly, gathering data on “orientation” etc as well as on “gender.”

    But surely the point I’m making is clear. If you or me or Mark or the man in the moon wants to talk about family structure, we cannot legitmately do so on the foundation of, Did your parent have this or that experience?, but instead must do so based on the foundaional question of, Who do/did you live with? — realizing full well that the answers to that foundational family structure question might involve issues of gender, homosexuality, etc.

    Doe that make sense?

  12. Maggie Gallagher says:

    David, yes it makes sense but to clarify:

    Would living with a single gay father be a family structure in your view?

    Or does the “gay” part, by definition drop out of the debate leaving only “living with a single father”?

  13. Kevin says:

    Ms. Gallagher, even if you are right, we still don’t have a properly done study! Mr. Regnerus has a national sample of….what? Certainly not gay parents. He’s isolated some adults who claim their parents had a same-sex affair at some point during a mixed-orientation marriage that ended in divorce, and compared them to children whose parents never divorced. What do you think is the greatest influence on these children: the divorce, the affair(s) or the fact that one or both parents might be gay or lesbian? Was Regnerus correct in ignoring #1 and #2, and assigning correlation to #3?

    Please address my main concern: why you believe that sexual orientation would have an influence over one’s ability to parent.

  14. Maggie:

    I think that you have to agree that Regnerus’ findings have no correlation to parenting by committed gay and lesbian couples. There is a large body of scientific research that concludes that the children of gays and lesbians fare as well (if not better) than their peers. I admit that it is skewed towards lesbian mothers.

    Nevertheless, it is those committed couples that marriage equality is all about. The “no differences” hypothesis has generally been raised in regards to marriage equality and, in that context, Regnerus does nothing to change that conclusion.

    Of at least equal importance is the fact that nobody has established a link between same-sex marriage and increased same-sex parenting.

  15. Maggie Gallagher says:

    1. It is not only “skewed” studies looking at child outcomes consists entirely of lesbian moms.

    2.Repeatedly doing studies of non-probability samples only repeatedly proves one truth: some children with two lesbian parents are doing fine. It does not show us how these children do comparatively, or how the typical child in such a family structure does.

    It simply cannot.

    3. We likely have a real Murphy Brown problem here. Studies that look at children reared by lesbian couples created by ART are overwhelmingly skewed to the affluent and well-educated.

    So David, we simply cannot in my view say scientifically how children are or are not affected by being raised by two lesbian moms on average. And we have virtually no scientific information on motherless children raised by two dads.

    The forgotten study is Loren Marks in Social Science Journal. Have you read it? Way over my limit going to let others comment from here.

  16. Maggie:

    Would living with a single gay father be a family structure in your view?

    Or does the “gay” part, by definition drop out of the debate leaving only “living with a single father”?

    Good question. My initial response is, yes, living with a gay father is a family structure.

    In the past, researchers seem simply in most cases to have assumed, if the answer to the question is, “I live with my father,” that the father is heterosexual. But given the “new” questions that Mark and other researchers now seek to explore, it seems that the answer to your question is yes, “I live with my father (who is gay)” is determinative of a particular family structure.

    Which would therefore be one example of what I was (apparently wrongly) assuming to be the meaning of the term “new family structures” in Mark’s project.

    I can see all kinds of practical problems in actually accurately gathering such information, as I’m sure you can too, but I’m assuming that that’s not the nature of your query. You are asking at the level of proper conceptualization; and on that level, yes, it would be a legitmate “new family structure.”

  17. Maggie:

    You might be begging the question:

    There is not a single study that looks at a nationally representative sample of children born into a same-sex couple headed family and follows them to adulthood

    Such a study would be irrelevant given that a large number of children being raised by gay parents were probably adopted – possibly the majority. If we look at male couples with children, I would assume that adoption is responsible for the overwhelming majority of their children. How many couples can afford surrogacy?

    Before we ask for conclusions about the parenting of gay couples one needs to first ask how those children were brought into the relationship. At what age? Under what circumstances? Regnerus addresses none of this.

  18. Schroeder says:

    Kevin,

    There is no rational reason to believe that sexual orientation has an influence on parenting skills, and therefore on outcomes for children. That notion stems from either a homophobic belief, or a straight supremacist belief.

    You have made this straw man argument (i.e. false characterization of what your opponents are saying) more than once, and I think that it would be a good strategy for you to stop making it. No one that I know of, definitely not Mark Regnerus, has called into question the parenting skills of gays and lesbians. That is just not even the question that is being considered, and, as you’ve pointed out correctly several times, that view doesn’t even make sense. So when you say things like the above, it might make people think that you don’t want to engage the actual argument for some reason. They might suspect that you don’t have a good answer to the actual argument; but I think that you do!

    I am not a big fan of the Regnerus study. In fact, as I’ve said before, I strongly disagree with the study and, like David, don’t think it addresses the questions it claims to be trying to answer. It makes me, like Diane, mad. However, I think that attacking it for saying things that it didn’t say actually weakens the argument against it, because people might think that you didn’t understand what it was saying in the first place. So know that this criticism of your argument is friendly criticism from someone who agrees with most of your conclusions about the study.

    To briefly explain why the quote above is a false characterization: Regnerus – or anyone else – does not hypothesize that gay people qua gay people are inherently not good parents. The argument instead is that – at least, in the period the study was examining – there was a high degree of family instability among families in which a parent had a same-sex relationship which led to poorer outcomes for children. It doesn’t parcel out or claim to parcel out causality at all. Further, prime facie, it seems that since LGB couples cannot have their own biological children each other that they would be most similar to step families, adoptive families, ART families with regard to child outcomes, since that it what they are. Finally, it is not homophobic – if you think that people of different genders interact differently with each other than people of the same gender – to suppose that gay couples might have different parenting styles that could lead to different child outcomes (although it might be sexist).

    Honestly, I wish that more people in the LGB community (I know that some have) had seized on this study as evidence that the gay community would be benefited by the stability that marriage brings and that mixed orientation marriages are bad for children. I think it’s definitely the wrong response, though, to make up an argument that no one is making and respond to that instead of the real argument.

  19. Kevin says:

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, Schroeder. When Mr. Regnerus makes a claim that the children of gay fathers are more likely to consider suicide, there’s a real problem. If he meant to say that the children of gay fathers in mixed-orientation marriages that broke up were more likely to consider suicide, he should have said so. But he didn’t.

    As I noted, Mr. Regnerus explains his motivation for embarking on this study: that he can’t accept that gay people parent as well as straight people, based on dozens of previous studies. Read his article in SSR. I don’t know why you think this is a strawman argument: it gets to fundamental concerns about his study. He thinks that sexual orientation, which he surrogates carelessly as “had a same-sex affair while in a mixed-orientation marriage that ended in divorce” results in negative outcomes for children.

    I don’t think it’s about being a fan of a study or not. The more scholarly question is, do the data support the conclusions the researcher reaches? Clearly, they don’t here. There are way too many variables in play for Mr. Regnerus to reach the conclusion that he did. Mr. Regnerus doesn’t know what lead to negative outcomes for his test group: divorce, adulterous affairs or the sexual orientation of one or both parents.

  20. Schroeder says:

    Here, in brief, is the reason I think it’s a straw man argument to say that “can’t accept that gay people parent as well as straight people, based on dozens of previous studies.”

    You say, “There is no rational reason to believe that sexual orientation has an influence on parenting skills, and therefore on outcomes for children.”

    This argument assumes that parenting skills are the only thing that can affect outcomes for children. We know from mountains of studies that this is a false assumption. Let me ask you this: If a study showed that, on average, the children of single parents had poorer outcomes than the children of a stable couples, would you assume that the single parents had poorer parenting skills? I wouldn’t!

    Or another question: If a study showed that adopted children had, on average, poorer outcomes than biological children, would you assume that adoptive parenting “has an influence on parenting skills, and therefore on outcomes for children?” That would be absurd! Do you see my point? I really am trying hard to have a meeting of the minds!

  21. We likely have a real Murphy Brown problem here. Studies that look at children reared by lesbian couples created by ART are overwhelmingly skewed to the affluent and well-educated.

    I have to agree with Maggie although lesbian couples may have more adopted children than those created by ART. We just don’t know. I’m running off to vote but I believe that a new study on outcomes of special needs students had a more diverse sample (I am not sure).

    Of more importance, gay and lesbian couples have children. That’s a fact that is unrelated to marriage. Those kids are presumably better off if their parents are married. With that, I am over quota and have a long line to wait on.

  22. Tristian says:

    Kevin, that “the children of gay fathers in mixed-orientation marriages that broke up were more likely to consider suicide” is exactly the kind of thing he does say. As a short hand he labels these folks “GF” for gay father, but he very explicitly indicates this is short hand for ‘had a father who had a same sex relationship’. As he now concedes, this is a bit of a misleading way to go about it, but he is very clear in the paper.

    He is equally clear in stating that his study does not support causal explanations of anything, meaning he is not claiming that having a gay father (as he defines this) results in anything if “results in” means “causes.” He’s looking at correlations, that’s all and his criticism of earlier studies is that they cannot even do that much. His disavowal of having established a causal link is very clear:

    “I am thus not suggesting that growing up with a lesbian mother or gay father causes suboptimal outcomes because of the sexual orientation or sexual behavior of the parent; rather, my point is more modest: the groups display numerous, notable distinctions, especially when compared with young adults whose biological mother and father remain married.” (pg. 766)

  23. [...] Blankenhorn comments again, but still manages to miss the forest because he is intent on finding one tree in which only he is [...]

  24. Diane M says:

    Regnerus says “the groups display numerous, notable distinctions, especially when compared with young adults whose biological mother and father remain married.” (pg. 766)

    But that’s the heart of the problem with his study – all young adults whose biological mother and father divorce do worse than those whose parents stay married.

    The children of lesbians that I knew growing up had divorced parents or mothers who were having affairs behind the husband’s backs. All of them. The only way their moms could end up living with another woman was if the family of origin split up.

    The children of lesbians that I know now have two committed mothers that chose to adopt or create a baby with artificial insemination.

    This gets back to what Tristian was asking in the other thread (where I’ve made 3 comments and it’s nearly full). Given that we can’t find adult offspring of long-married gay and lesbian couples, is there something about gay and lesbian couples that make this instability inevitable?

    I, not surprisingly, say no. I believe in marriage. It marks a commitment to stay together, but it also helps you do it.

    We don’t have any long-term data on what happens to same sex couples when they are allowed to marry. We just can’t.

    If we want to speculate, though, I do know some couples who’ve stayed together many years even without marriage. Some research suggests that it’s actually easier for same-sex couples to get along together because their arguing styles are more similar.

  25. Anna says:

    It seems to me all this talk of what is a family structure and what isn’t just points to the elephant in the room:

    Having heterosexual biological parents is in itself a family structure because heterosexual sex in itself makes babies. The heterosexual relationship and the parenthood are inextricably and essentially linked. My son is the fruit of his parents’ love – quite literally and simply. He just happened, because we do what we do.

    Homosexual relations don’t in themselves make babies. Homosexual couples may wish to imitate the child-engendering quality of their heterosexual peers’ relationships and either adopt or avail themselves of ART, but the simple fact of the matter is that homosexual sex does not make babies. And in that sense, homosexuality can never by part of the structure of a family.

    Children can have parents who happen to be homosexual. But their sexuality and their parenthood are simply not integrally linked, as they are for heterosexual parents.

    That fact is not Mark Regnerus’s doing. What exactly could he have done that would have qualified as comparing like family structures, given that they aren’t alike?

  26. Diane M says:

    I actually agree with Maggie Gallagher that we don’t have any good comprehensive studies on the effects of being raised by same-sex couples. We have some evidence that suggests children raised by lesbian couples can do well. That’s significant in itself, but we do need more studies.

    We also lack data on how marriage will affect same sex couples.

    We do, however, have data on what happens to the children when there is no gay marriage.

    Regnerus has given it to us.

    Many people on this website post very idealistic arguments in favor of gay marriage – it’s a civil right. People should be equal. We have to hold to our American principles of equality.

    My argument is much less idealistic and somewhat selfish. Regnerus’ study is how not-gay-marriage works for real in America. Not-gay-marriage hurts straight people who marry someone who will never fully love them as a husband or wife. Not-gay-marriage hurts children and guarantees that they won’t live in a stable family.

  27. Maggie Gallagher says:

    David B thanks. David, I’ll amend to say no studies based on probability samples “raised from birth or soon thereafter by a same-sex couple” so as to include adoptions in infancy or early childhood by same-sex couples. That doesn’t change the state of the research. Its not like we have probability samples of children adopted in early childhood and raised by lesbians that I’m trying to exclude.

    (The majority of gay parents likely still get children the old fashioned way, btw: through heterosexual sex. Lesbians in particular have a lot of experience with heterosexual sex, on average. )

  28. Kevin says:

    Admin, I acknowledge I’m over my comment limit. Delete my comment(s) if you deem it necessary.

    Tristian says: “As a short hand he labels these folks “GF” for gay father, but he very explicitly indicates this is short hand for ‘had a father who had a same sex relationship’. As he now concedes, this is a bit of a misleading way to go about it, but he is very clear in the paper.”

    I don’t agree that he clearly makes the necessary distinctions. Why not “DF” for divorced fathers, or “AF” for adulterous fathers, if an abbreviation is necessary? What did Regnerus choose the “gay” shorthand? Considering how his journal article is being used, it appears that some folks are either exceeding dishonest in quoting from Mr. Regnerus’ article, or Mr. Regnerus did not make it very clear that he compared the adult children of intact marriages to the adult children of broken marriage where one or both parents had an adulterous affair and, by the way, that affair occurred with a same-sex partner.

    Mr. Regnerus can make NO comparative claim in his study, because he has a control group composed of apples and a test group composed of oranges. It is like comparing the outcomes of the children of wealthy, suburban white couples to the children of poor, urban black couples: two enormously different groups. Explaining disparities between the two by citing race alone would be simply inaccurate. Yet that’s what Regnerus and his supporters, are doing.

    Again, Mr. Regnerus clearly explained his motivations: he could not accept that the children of same-sex couples could have the same outcomes as the children of different-sex couples, despite a mountain of previous research saying that was the case. He explained no similar concerns about the added stress of parents who had an affair, or parents who divorced, yet he included those two attributes with his gay parent identifier. Why?

  29. There’s no question that if we wanted to test the strong version of the “no differences” hypothesis, we’d need good probability samples to do so. The rub in this case is that in order to achieve something approaching a probability sample, Regnerus chose to expand the scope of the independent variable so broadly as to make it substantively meaningless for the evaluation of this claim. The Regnerus study therefore simply doesn’t offer sufficient evidence to reject the “no differences” hypothesis as properly construed. That’s because the independent variable measures an entirely different construct and therefore doesn’t address the hypothesis. http://scatter.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/bad-science-not-about-same-sex-parenting/

  30. Kevin says:

    It’s still fascinating that no one of expertise is defending the study as being valid and useful. The Regnerus defenders are defending Mr. Regnerus, but not his study; no one is coming forward and claiming something to the effect: “I’m qualified to judge the methodology and conclusions of such a study, and I find this one academically sound and authentic.”

    That’s a pretty interesting insight, I think. Accusing Regnerus’ critics of pursuing political correctness isn’t the same as defending the study itself as worthy and sound, or explaining why the critics, who have offered specific examples of the study’s short-comings, are wrong.

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  32. marilyn says:

    Anna
    That was harsh as hell. It made me cringe it was so harsh. But it is accurate. Of course the same thing can be said of heterosexual couples where at least one member is incapable of reproducing.

    Anna would you say the very same thing about heterosexual couples where at least one member is incapable of reproducing? The partner that reproduced is part of a family with their child and the other parent whoever that may be. The infertile or sterile spouse is included at the discretion of the actual parents even when one is a donor there is the understanding that somewhere on some piece of paper that person gave permission for people to raise their kid on their behalf.

  33. marilyn says:

    I know lots of people raised by gay parents and their respective partners. They are various states of fine and not fine because their parent’s orientation is pretty irrelevant to beiing either a good parent or a bad parent. A gay workaholic is just as unavailable a s a straight one and a lesbian PTA mom is just as attentive as a straight one. There are alcoholics and tea totalers, nerds, hipsters I just don’t see the orientation as having anything meaningful to do with whether people can do a good job of raising children. Their own or someone else’s.

    There are probably some challenges to deal with there is likely a significant amount of discrimination that occurs outside the safety of major cities. Where I grep up its pretty common to raise a kid with a same sex partner. It was not common to pretend the kid did not have a father or mother out there – that is new I think. I think that is lame, but just raising a kid around a step parent is not new.

  34. christian pelham says:

    I am no family scholar but I am a UT graduate with an MBA from Stanford. I’ve been in a long term relationship of over twenty years and was gay identified (by me) in the third grade growing up in Texas.

    If only 1 % of what I have read about this Regenrus study is accurate the University of Texas at Austin should fire Mark tomorrow and retract the study. This study is the same awful hateful attempt by those who hate us to spread lies and misinformation about us and/or promote junk science as has Regenerus. I am just sick at my stomach to know that the University of Texas at Austin has had anything to do in the promotion of such hate. This study clearly was an attempt to drive a wedge and promote more fear of gay people by the Maggie Gallaghers of the World and it unconscionable.

    I find this whole anti gay hate industry saddening – to spend so much of your life Maggie Gallagher devoted to restricting freedom and creating misery directed towards other humans is simply tragic. Pathetic, actually. Imagine the good we could do if you were not forcing gay people to raise millions of dollars all the time to fight this craziness. Imagine what you and your church fund-ers could do Maggie? Can you not see that you are on the wrong side of history, you are why Republicans are losing and people like those in my state have just voted against you and won. Hoorah for Minnesota – a win for LOVE.

    I somehow got lost for four or five hours today looking at all this. I’m no expert on Sociology and am saddened that Regenerus and UT have devalued my undergraduate degree. I am more saddened that if this hate agenda wins that future generations of young gay people will have a more difficult time accepting themselves, more will be thrown out by awful parents, more homeless gay kids will roam the streets in our cities, more youth will kill themselves, or even most scary you will be behind the move to recriminalize, jail, and murder us.

    Everything I read today about this study and all these attempts to encourage junk science boil down to what I fear is the true goal of the Witherspoon Institute, NOM, Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown’s on this planet. You are only their puppet Mark Generus but the blood will be on your hands (and yours’ also UT!) – their future World and where Gay people (who have no desire to “change” ) should be in it. Sadly, it boils down to this one photo from your NOM rally Maggie – what those you convince gays are bad decide should be our fate – it is here – -> http://goo.gl/eioyY

    -A FURIOUS TEXAS EX (Economics 1986)

  35. Dmitri says:

    It looks like due to relative scarsity of the families with GF or LM (I will keep this terminology for simplicity), further parsing of this subpopulation of unstable families is destined to have problems with statistical power; so why try? On the other hand, comparing the families with GF or LM (inherently unstable due to social stigma and the lack of official recognition) with similarly unstable families of heterosexual parents (for example, where children responded positively to the question of their parents’ marital infidelity) would provide statistically better results. I wonder why Regnerus decided not to go this route? Marital infidelity is not uncommon among spouses with same-sex romance, and is equally destructive to families. If Regnerus’ original questionnaire did not have a question whether the respondent was aware of his/her parent’s extramarital romantic relationship, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, Regnerus’ study is flawed. The only firm conclusion it allows is that stable, loving families are better for the children than unstable and not-so-loving ones, but, really, does one need a 30,000 subject study to come to such a trivial conclusion?