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Author of discredited gay parenting study stung by criticism during Mich. trial

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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Updated: 2:00 p.m. EST

DETROIT — Attorneys seeking to overturn Michigan’s gay marriage ban tried to peck away Tuesday at the credibility of a social scientist whose disputed 2012 study questioned the well-being of children who grew up in a home where a parent had a same-sex relationship.

Mark Regnerus said his study found that young adults had more problems than other young adults if they were raised with a mother or father who had a same-sex relationship. He testified Monday that the best scenario for a child is to grow up in a home led by a married man and woman.

As Regnerus was testifying on behalf of the state of Michigan, which is defending a ban on same-sex marriage, his University of Texas colleagues were distancing themselves from his work.

Christine Williams, the chairwoman of the school’s sociology department, said the department doesn’t share Regnerus’ views.

She said Regnerus’ work has been used by gay-marriage opponents to “diminish the civil rights” of gays and lesbians:

Like all faculty, Dr. Regnerus has the right to pursue his areas of research and express his point of view. However, Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department of The University of Texas at Austin.

Nor do they reflect the views of the American Sociological Association, which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families.

We encourage society as a whole to evaluate his claims.

Regnerus was asked about Williams’ statement during cross-examination Tuesday and said it was “sad” and “regrettable.”

“I guess they’ve been getting negative press about my appearance,” he said of the university.

Two Detroit-area nurses, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, are asking a judge to throw out Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, saying it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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They are raising three adopted children with special needs. But they can’t marry in Michigan and, as a result, can’t jointly adopt each other’s kids.

Regnerus said he doesn’t have an opinion about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to jointly adopt.

The couple’s co-counsel, Leslie Cooper, questioned Regnerus for more than two hours, asking him details of the planning that went into the study, which was financed by the conservative Witherspoon Institute, based in New Jersey. She asked if there was a meeting at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

Regnerus replied “correct” when told he’s never been a “fan” of gay marriage. He also doesn’t support sex outside of marriage.

Follow the case: DeBoer v. Snyder.

Developing story, check back for updates as testimony continues.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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