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Views & Analysis

June 14, 2012

Bunk “Study” Defames Same-Sex Headed Households

FromKate Family PicMany times, when the anti-gay industry pops out with a new absurd lie, I simply sigh, remind myself of the arc of history, and move on. But the latest vicious volley landed, quite literally, too close to home.


Earlier this week, a University of Texas sociologist named Mark Regnerus published a paper purporting to show that kids raised in same-sex households have poor outcomes as adults. His conclusion runs counter to 30-plus years of peer-reviewed research and contradicts the formal positions of every major child welfare and psychological association in the country. Perhaps most importantly it defies the actual, lived experience of same-sex households and the family, friends and neighbors who know us.

So what gives?

One would think that if you wanted to find out if kids raised by same-sex couples were impacted by their parents’ sexual orientation, you would compare those kids to kids raised by opposite-sex couples, right? Well, no. If you’re a “researcher” who wants to game the outcome to match your pre-determined bias, you don’t compare intact, long-term relationship — instead you find a bunch of young adults whose families had endured significant transitions such as divorce or foster care.

Then, leaving nothing to chance, you don’t find actual committed same-sex parents. Instead, you ask the research subjects if their moms or dads ever had a same-sex relationship. (Apparently, one-nightstands and occasional booty-calls count.) Now, with your sample group sufficiently skewed, you ask these now-grown young adults how they are doing. Turns out, some of them report significant problems. You then compare this group of young adults to those raised in intact, long-term opposite-sex relationships, and voila! You have your headline.

The Regnerus paper is a hit piece, plain and simple. It was financed by a staggering $785,000 in grants from two far-right foundations, the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. Even Regnerus himself acknowledges he wasn’t comparing apples to apples: “I realize that one same-sex relationship does not a lesbian make, necessarily. But our research team was less concerned with the complicated politics of sexual identity than with same-sex behavior.” In other words, “We wanted to make sure not to mess up our bought and paid for bigotry with fair and credible methodology.”

The saddest fact in this sordid piece of bunk is that many Americans will read the headline and begin to doubt that their growing acceptance and support of our families is wise. The first headline I saw was in the Mormon-owned Deseret News out of Salt Lake City: “Studies challenge widely held assumptions about same-sex parenting.” My greatest concern in reading that headline was the welfare of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and their kids currently living in Utah. How would their Mormon family members react to this bogus “research”? I got an answer from my Mormon sister, Sharon. When I asked her what she thought of the story, she said, “Well, I think immediately of you and Sandy and your remarkable, well-adjusted, well-mannered, happy and accomplished kids, and I think that study is not true.” Thanks Sharon. Let’s hope the majority of the nation allows their own experience and heart to be their guide as well.

In solidarity,

Kate Kendell, Esq., NCLR Executive Director

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