Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is an asshole

Researcher Mark Regnerus didn’t just misrepresent his flawed study as being about same-sex parents when barely any same-sex couples were present in his sample. He also holds some particularly ugly opinions about same-sex parents themselves. Addressing another study that actually focused on lesbian parents, he said:

And yet all this is not actually why I think it’s time for the NLLFS to shutter its operation. No, the reason is that its sample — 78 kids growing up in activist households — is no longer a source for valid, reliable information.

Did you catch that? “Activist households.” He continues:

In this case, I’m concerned that the kids feel pressure to give better-than-accurate portrayals of their household and personal life. When the adolescent children of lesbian parents are being intermittently interviewed for a study whose results have proven quite politically important — and almost always covered favorably by the mainstream media — it’s prudent for scholars to be skeptical about whether respondents are still offering valid and reliable responses years after they were first contacted.

Take note of the dichotomy he’s set up here. He contends that his own study is superior because of its use of a nationally representative sample. This is in spite of the fact that:

1. His study defined “gay fathers” and “lesbian mothers” as any father or mother who had ever had a same-sex relationship, rather than restricting this to same-sex couples who were actually raising children together.

2. As a result, it included almost no children raised by same-sex parents in the long term, a shortcoming Regnerus himself admits before dismissing it as insurmountable.

3. He also packed these groups of so-called gay parents with as many children of step-parents, divorced parents, adoptive parents and single parents as possible – as he says, he “forced their mutual exclusivity” by removing children of gay-parents-who-may-not-really-be-gay-parents from the aforementioned groups and lumping them all together – and then compared them to “intact biological families”. This put the “gay parents” groups at an inherent disadvantage.

And yet he now claims that the results of a study that specifically focuses on lesbian mothers raising children in the long term cannot be trusted. Why? Apparently because these mothers are activists.

What evidence does he have of this? He describes the study as follows:

The NLLFS employs a convenience sample, recruited entirely from announcements posted “at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers” in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Whatever shortcomings there may be in such a sample, this does not warrant concluding that lesbian couples – who, shockingly, sometimes take an interest in events and publications that are relevant to their lives! – can therefore be assumed to be “activists”. Regnerus ascribes some sinister motive to these lesbian-headed families being studied, for no reason other than the fact that they are lesbian-headed families being studied.

But being in a lesbian relationship and seeking to raise a family does not inherently make someone an “activist”. Starting a family is not some kind of covert gay-agenda “activism”, any more than it’s “activist” for straight couples to do the same.  Reducing our families to little more than a political ploy is nothing but naked and inexcusable prejudice. Never did Regnerus express similar doubts about the responses to his own study. Not once did he consider that the children of opposite-sex and same-sex parents would be influenced to distort their answers to his own study about a hot-button topic like same-sex parenting. Why? Because his study allegedly reflected poorly on gay parents, a conclusion which is somehow above any doubt, while this one reflected positively on us, which means it must be faulty because that just isn’t possible.

Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is an asshole

30 thoughts on “Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is an asshole

  1. 1

    In this case, I’m concerned that the kids feel pressure to give better-than-accurate portrayals of their household and personal life.

    And in which families do children NOT feel this pressure? Everybody wants to protect the people they’re close to. Even in abusive situations, children will often insist that everything is okay, either because they’re terrified of retaliation or because they don’t want to “air dirty laundry” or whatever.

    Yes, this is a problem with qualitative research on family life, especially when the subjects are children. But to pretend that this is only an issue with children of same-sex couples is intellectually dishonest and unfair.

    1. 1.1

      That was my first thought as well…there’s no reason, apart from Regnurus’ own prejudices, to assume that children of same sex parents are any more likely to paint a rosier picture than children in any other situation.

      1. I’m going to add a reason that Regnerus is a fucking asshole. His National Review article condemning that NLLFS actually says that he isn’t faulting the researchers, but rather, the way that the media portray all lesbian families on the basis of the NLLFS. In a first instance, it is FAR FROM THE TRUTH that the media only cover the NLLFS on matters of lesbian-headed families. It also is FAR FROM THE TRUTH that all media report inaccurately on the NLLFS. However, what really marks Regnerus as a fucking asshole for his attack against the NLLFS — is that HE NEVER CALLS OUT THE MEDIA FOR ITS MISREPRESENTATIONS OF HIS STUDY. Brian Fischer of the American Family Association has a radio program that reaches 20 million listeners. He said that the sex abuse results from the Regnerus study prove that gay parents should never be left alone in rooms with their own children. He doubled down on that by saying that there should be an “underground railroad” to “rescue” children from their own gay parents. Regnerus did not then say that his study should be withdrawn from consideration because of the way the media was portraying his study to the public. And in fact, because of the shabby ways that Regnerus reached his “findings” about child sex abuse, prominent sociologists have called for Regnerus to make a public statement that his study did not prove any correlation between gay parents and child sex abuse. But Regnerus has not made any such public statement. And, he gives interviews to organizations that have already used his study to conflate pedophiles with homosexuals (a known falsehood) — and not corrected them, or even mentioned their use of the topic. He’s holding other researchers, and the media — to a one-way standard — where if the news is favorable to gay parents, it shouldn’t be reported, but if it is unfavorable to them, it should be reported all day long. If that doesn’t make him a fucking asshole, what does it make him?

    1. 2.1

      I stopped by to say that I was already certain Regnerus is an asshole(but further explanation doesn’t hurt). But your website, opsarxangels is one conspiracy after another chasing god’s tail. Really, you (that website) is a force against reason and poisons the mind with even a cursory examination. Please go back to square 1 (do not collect $200) and get a highschool science text book to learn what evidence is and how to use it.

  2. 4

    If he’s going to argue that other people can’t be objective, why does Mark Regnerus think *he* can be objective? He clearly believes that homosexuality is wrong, so how can he be trusted to avoid bias in his own work?

    The answer is that studies need to be done with proper methodology so that, even if the investigator is biased, the conclusions drawn can be trusted. It’s obvious that either Mark Regnerus is an utterly incompetent investigator, or else his biases have led him to employ shoddy methodology in the hopes that nobody goes looking further.

    1. 4.1

      Mark Regnerus is a shill for the National Organization for Marriage. He has no autonomy from his study’s funders. He and his funders lied to the public, by saying that the funders were not involved in the study design. They were. The documentation that the funders were involved in (the deliberately booby-trapped) study design is incontrovertible. Why would anybody expect honesty from a NOM shill? NOM itself in this past year pleaded guilty to 18 counts of campaign finance law violations and had to pay fines to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The 2012 SPLC Intelligence Report on NOM is titled: “National Organization for Marriage Continues to Spread Lies About Gays” That is who Regnerus is in bed with – that is who is funding his anti-gay hate campaigns. Lying, law-breaking, hateful anti-gay bigots.

      1. sc_43598d7a9185fb7de53e94601c54059d, it’s off-topic here and I don’t want to step on Zinnia’s toes, but Blanchard’s transsexualism typology isn’t at all well-respected by a great many trans people, given that as an etiology it’s unproven and moreover, in its implications it’s pretty fucking offensive to trans women who are not exclusively androphilic. I don’t think Zinnia’s blogged on it, but it has been mentioned in the comments on occasion, e.g. here.

  3. 6

    The real issue here is that Regnerus has no professional qualifications to discuss the scientific study of homosexuality and still less the esoteric specialty of lesbian parenting. One thing that’s for sure about the study he is baselessly attacking — the NLLFS — is that all of the study subjects in it have lesbian mothers. Regnerus does not accept to be interviewed by any reporter who is going to criticize his work in any way; (he refused an interview to the New York Times). But, he does talk with friendly professional gay-bashing venues such as Focus on the Family’s “Citizen Link.” He confessed to them that he “does not know about” the sexual orientation of his study subjects’ parents. Additionally, there is something in his study that marks it as scientifically invalid, even way, way beyond that. His target study group was 18 to 39 year old Americans who say one or both parents ever had a same sex romantic relationship. NOBODY knows what percent of the US population aged 18 to 39 says a parent has ever had a same sex relationship. NOBODY KNOWS THAT PERCENT. And the reason that is so crucially important, is that in deriving “findings” from raw data, sociologists have to apply “weights” and “controls.” Without knowing what percent of the general population the target group constitutes, there is NO WAY for a sociologist to apply a scientifically valid “weight” or “control” to his raw data. Regnerus has been asked for — but refused to provide — an explanation of how he derived his child sex abuse “findings” from his raw data. (It is known that his funding agency representative, The Witherspoon Institute’s Brad Wilcox, collaborated with Regnerus on study design and data analysis and interpretation). So not only is Regnerus’s study not about children of gay parents; it isn’t even meaningfully about children of parents who have ever had a same sex relationship. He and his Witherspoon funder monkeyed around with the raw data, applying it to a target study group for which there is NO WAY for ANYBODY to determine a scientifically valid means of weighting the data and controlling for various confounding variables. Moreover,an increasing number of Ph.D.s are calling for the Regnerus study to be retracted from publication, because of the indisputable documentation that the funders corrupted the peer review and that Regnerus and his funders have been lying to the public about their relationship.

    1. 7.2

      My complaint was that Zinnia didn’t call RATERNASS a “fucking asshole.” Go read Ratnerass’s National Review article. He says that his study “proved” that there are low-income minority lesbian mothers. Yet, he told Citizen Link that he “doesn’t know about” his respodents’ parents’ sexual orientation. GET IT? He admits that he doesn’t know whether his study included any children of lesbian mothers, but out the other side of his lying bigot mouth he says that his study “proved” something about lesbian mothers. How is this bigot not a fucking asshole?

    2. 7.3

      Very coarse titling your article using the word “asshole”. I will not be subscribing further to your articles.

      Collapse of FTB collective imminent! Internet recoils in fear of dirty word! Film at 11!

  4. 8

    He’s an idiot too.

    If he presented it as “Hey, I saw some troubling trends that warrant further investigation”, the media would focus on his conclusions, as tentative as they are.

    Legitimate researchers would focus on refuting or confirming this study, or presenting other research in that light. The media would likely ignore such followups, going for what looks like entirely new information.

    At worst, from his point of view, he’d accomplish just as much for his bigot lords. And presenting it in a more responsible tentative manner, people who are bigots from ignorance rather than set in malice would take him more seriously. Then given the lack of covering followups that would likely ensue from the media, these people would assume the conclusions were confirmed simply because they never heard the refutation.

    By presenting the conclusions as solid, he let the weaknesses in the study become the story, rather than let them be a minor side note that everyone assumes will be dealt with in the followups. Which the media would promptly ignore, allowing the initial conclusions to stand in peoples minds.

    Seriously… whether this guy thought he was doing good science, or he was deliberately tweaking things against gay families, he was horribly incompetent.

  5. 9

    Might I suggest that “Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is incompetent” would be a stronger title to outsiders than “Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is an asshole”?

  6. 10

    He totally convinced me and I therefore propose several changes to scientific research in order to get more accurate results:
    When doing research on the effect of religious upbringing we should exclude people whose parents go to church ’cause they’re activists.
    When doing research about school-systems and education we should exclude pupils because their teachers are activists.
    When doing research on some medication or other we should exclude patients ’cause their doctors are activists.
    When doing research on contraceptives we should exclude sexually active people because they fuck.

  7. 12

    Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research published a bogus study on “same sex parenting” that was funded by anti-gay-rights groups and only published through a corrupt process, including corrupt peer review. The study is being used nationwide as a weapon against gays and Democrats in the 2012 elections. Please sign and repost this petition, demanding that the publisher retract the study from publication:

    1. 13.1

      Ratnerass is implying that because the “activist households” in the NLLFS are presumed to want equal rights, the study subjects are not answering study questions truthfully (but note that the NLLFS is not only a survey study). That, from Ratnerass, who is implying this thing about “activists households,” whereas many of his study subjects never lived with a gay parent, and yet he assigned all of the “bad” child outcomes in his study to gay parents. Surely the height of Ratnerass’s gall, though — to be found in his (racist, gay-bashing) National Review article — is that he faults, not the researchers, but “the mainstream media” for “only” reporting about lesbian mothers on the basis of the NLLFS. That is simply a lie. The mainstream media report on many other studies about gay families. But, it is largely true that the mainstream media concluded that Ratnerass’s study is a pile of doo. That can happen, when the heterosexual president of the American Sociological Association signs a letter calling your gay family study groupings “absurd” and expressing concerns about the process through which your gay family study got published. Still, when the New York Times tried to interview Regnerus about the role of faith in his work, he told them that it wouldn’t be “profitable” to talk about that. Meanwhile, he had told religious-oriented publications that he hopes his work helps the Catholic Church, and that he wants his students to understand the connections between his (anti-gay) faith and his work. Got it? He wants to teach his public university students about gays on the basis of his anti-gay faith, but he says it isn’t “profitable” for him to talk with the New York Times about the connections between his work and his faith. And meanwhile, he whines in the pages of the (reactionary, racist, gay-bashing) National Review that the mainstream media don’t report enough bad things about lesbian-headed families.

  8. 14

    It hasn’t yet been said, so I’ll mention it here – caveat that I didn’t read the study itself.

    Reporting is that his study included children whose fathers “had gay sex” in prison.

    Note that this environment is notoriously violent and coercive when it comes to sex. It is very difficult to have a consensual sexual relationship between men in a men’s prison. Rapists have many, many reasons for raping and typically ID as straight and report having only straight sex outside prisons. Rape victims do include (disproportionately so) gay men, but the majority of rape victims are not gay men. The fact that Regnerus’ only basis for classifying a parent as “having had a same-sex relationship” means that these weren’t gay men imprisoned, these were straight men imprisoned and then either raping or being raped.

    He still hasn’t dealt with this in an open fashion. He had no particular control in place to differentiate prison rape from prison sex. No, to him men rapists, men rape victims, and gay men are sufficiently synonymous that there was no need to establish any such controls.

    (Assuming the accuracy of the media reports that “prison sex” was allowed to be a basis for classifying parents in his study) That alone should should prove his horrific prejudice and hatred, AND that his prejudice and hatred affected his science.

    This should be brought up every single time his name is mentioned unless and until it is directly refuted.

  9. 15

    As for activist households:

    1. You didn’t even need to go to a left-wing bookstore. You just had to know someone who had been to a left wing bookstore and knew you had a kid because you didn’t lock your child in the basement for years while openly feigning that you aren’t a parent.

    2. This means that anyone who knows someone who has been to a christian church and has children can’t be part of a parenting study that gives the subjects any reason to suspect that religion may be one of the variables under study.

    3. Look, I’ve been part of the lesbian community and part of the queer women’s community. I gotta tell you that one is a lot more conservative than the other, even if neither are (in sum) right wing. The more conservative parts of the lesbian community? According to anecdata [albeit extensive and over years] they are more likely to be parents…and in the late 80s to late 90s? Far more likely to be parents. Radical queer parenting hasn’t been possible for very long. Lesbian and bi moms became pregnant in relationships with men or they were very mainstream to get an adoption agency placement in 1993. Only the tiniest handful were able to and/or wanted to do things like turkey-baster insemination and follow that up with radical parenting.

    I’d be quite surprised if the subjects of the NLLFS aren’t decidedly more mainstream than the median woman member of the larger lesbian, bi, and queer women’s community.

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