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Analysis

Discredited Regnerus study demonizing gay parents continues its reign of error

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For the anti-gay movement, call it the gift that keeps on giving. The thoroughly discredited study by University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus that was released July 2012 has turned up yet again, this time in the initial brief filed on behalf of the state of Utah in its fight against marriage equality.

Mark Regnerus

Mark Regnerus

A federal judge ruled in December that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court granted a stay in January, and the lawsuit is currently wending its way through the appeals process.

The brief, filed by the state’s legal team late Monday night (beating the deadline by 30 minutes), suggests that children will somehow be endangered by marriage equality, and the Regnerus study is supposed to lend credence to the false claim that children raised in same-sex households fare worse in many ways than in households with opposite-sex couples.

However, Regnerus’ data does not support that conclusion, as he himself has admitted. Hundreds of sociologists have noted the study’s flawed methodology while the American Sociological Association slammed the study in a March 2013 amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, documents obtained by the American Independent suggest that Regnerus was recruited to conduct the study in order to use its findings to influence possible Supreme Court decisions regarding marriage equality and in fact may also have been coached about how to discuss the study publicly.

In spite of all that, since its publication, the study has been used in several amicus briefs that oppose marriage equality and it has been cited as justification for anti-gay policy at home and abroad.

Last September, a Russian lawmaker cited the study in conjunction with his proposed bill to deny gay and lesbian parents custody of their children. The study may also have played a role in the passage of laws against “gay propaganda” in Russia that have encouraged open homophobia and, in some cases, violent attacks.

The study has appeared overseas in other places, as well, like France’s rabidly anti-gay La Manif Pour Tous, which cites it on their website.

In October, the study ended up in even farther right circles, when it made up the brunt of anti-gay claims on flyers handed out by activists with a far right nationalist youth group with neo-Nazi ties (see here, here, and here) called All-Polish Youth (APY; Mlodiez Wszechpolska or MW in Polish) at an LGBT event in Gdansk, Poland.

The flyer, translated from Polish for Hatewatch by a professor in Gdansk who requested anonymity because of a dangerous anti-gay and anti-progressive climate developing in Poland, took some of Regnerus’s more suspect findings and used them to link homosexuality to pedophilia, among other false claims. The flyer supplied both Regnerus’s and APY’s website addresses and implored people to “not let children be harmed! Do not be oblivious to their fate!”

For his part, Regnerus claims that he takes no responsibility for how groups and lawmakers use his study, though he offered a lukewarm response to the “misuse” of his study by Russian lawmakers. Still, he himself seems to stir the anti-gay pot.

Last February, for example, Regnerus gave an interview to a Ukrainian media outlet that ran the piece under the headline (translated from Russian) “First published shocking scientific facts about the families of homosexuals.”

Like the Polish flyer, the article cited statistics taken from tables in the Regnerus study that purport to show that children raised in gay or lesbian families have higher rates of venereal disease and higher rates of mental illness than their counterparts raised in heterosexual households. Regnerus has also appeared as a speaker at anti-gay venues (see here and here) and testified before state legislators in Hawaii and Michigan against marriage equality.

For a man who claims he can’t be responsible for how others use his study, Regnerus sure spends a lot of time ensuring that others do, in fact, use his study, and often in ways that are detrimental to LGBT people both here and abroad.

© 2014, Southern Poverty Law Center, All Rights Reserved.
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16 more reader comments:

  1. look at that sad thing..is anyone fucking that? man or woman?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:04pm
  2. Duuuh expression….Priceless…..lol

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:06pm
  3. Why not invest money and time in getting homes for the thousands of kids in foster care?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:15pm
  4. The govt should cut his tongue out so he can’t talk and his fingers so he can not type.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:15pm
  5. This is nothing more than the rantings of a mentally ill man who is obsessed with his hatred, as misplaced as it might be.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:16pm
  6. Ummm I am completely speechless!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:23pm
  7. I wish there was an “acknowledged” or “read this” button because I just can’t like this.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:27pm
  8. The LGBT community needs to become united and take on and destroy all this bullshit. EVery single bit of it. We are NOT second class citizens, we are not some scientific experiment gone wrong. This study is one of the worst pieces of research done since the publishing of Sears/Osten and Sheldon on the “Homosexual Agenda” they so eloquently put together to fan the fires of hate and bigotry in their ignorant religious dogma.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:30pm
  9. It is people like Regnerus that would fit in perfectly with the Nazi movement. He is someone that only spreads hate and untruths about other people. In part, I feel that he is responsible for what is going on in Russia and someday I hope that he is punished for his actions.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:31pm
  10. It was also used by some op ed in recente debate about adoption rights for LGBT in Portugal.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:32pm
  11. Tax the conservative churches that espouse and support this and label them hate groups. Vote straight line Democrat in November to rid the government of this insanity.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:39pm
  12. Texas, no wonder those people are assholes. This Mormon piece of shit in the picture needs to suck on a shot gun.i

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:56pm
  13. Heres a song I wrote supporting all of you and your simple wish to be treated equal

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:29pm
  14. HATRED fueled by ignorance, bigotry and stupidity!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:33pm
  15. To cite a thoroughly debunked study in any legal brief, as Utah has done in its effort to defend its marriage ban, is unethical. When will the legal profession and licensing authorities so define it and begin disciplining lawyers who traffic in this crap?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:50pm
  16. Hey! I you’ve got One, Err Two Loving Dependable Sober, Parents, of Any Sex Size shape err form Your blessed, Bless Them!

    Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 12:28am