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Investigation Request Filed Regarding Suspicious NOM-Regnerus Anti-Gay Study

by Scott Rose on June 22, 2012

in Discrimination,Hate Groups,Marriage,News,Politics,Scott Rose

A study carried out by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, Austin, aroused suspicion when the public learned that the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage‘s co-founder Robert P. George had arranged for $785,000 of the funding for the study.

Though Regnerus’s stated aim in the study is to compare children raised up through the 1990′s by “intact biological families” with those raised by homosexual parents, Regnerus did not use proper methodology for surveying actual adult children raised by gay parents.

Though Regnerus’s written conclusion to the study is hedged with nuance, when he talks about the study on television, the nuance is gone, and his bottom line message is identical to NOM’s; “Homosexuals are dangerous to children.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has noted NOM’s predilection for conflating homosexuals fraudulently with pedophiles.

Since the release of his study, Regnerus has been propagandistically criticizing past, more positive studies about gay parenting outcomes, on grounds that those studies were “convenience samples” instead of samplings from the general population.

To understand how absurd Regnerus’s criticism is, think of it in these terms; if you needed to survey members of the Jane religion, would you do a convenience sampling of Janes, or would you put out feelers in the general population and hope to find a couple of Janes in the mix?

In addition to having used a bogus methodology for surveying adult children of “gay” parents, Regnerus has aroused suspicion about his motives with many of his public statements.

Without doubt, his study was ready in time for one of its main patrons, NOM’s Robert George, to use it as a political anti-gay-rights weapon in the 2012 election. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has signed Robert George’s NOM pledge. When a local University of Texas venue interviewed Regnerus, and asked him why he did not seek funding for his study from the National Institute of Health, here is what he said:

“I had a feeling when we started this project that it would not survive the politics of, in my opinion, the peer review system at the National Institute of Health (funding) — and it takes so long to get money from them, and there are revisions and revisions; I understand that works to the long-term benefit of science, but some scholars don’t feel like going that route.  I don’t have a shop with grant after grant.”

Despite Regnerus’s protests against National Institute of Health study protocol, and not having a shop with grant after grant, his study on Race and Religion in Adolescent Sexual Norms and Conduct was funded by the NIH.

An appearance has been created that Regnerus had some awareness of the timetable by which George required the study to be completed, and of the correspondence of the desired completion date to Robert George’s plans for political uses of the study. Regnerus, faced with questioning about Robert George’s connections to the study, has disingenuously said, “Professor George is a philosopher, I don’t think he has much to say about sampling theory.” With that quote, Regnerus appears to be feigning ignorance of NOM’s Robert George’s political connections and aims. It is not credible, that Regnerus would not be familiar with Robert George’s anti-gay politicking. NOM received condemnation from most mainstream commentators when a court-ordered release of its strategy documents revealed the organization’s plans to “drive a wedge” and to “fan hostility” between the African-American and gay communities. NOM appears also to fan the flames of antisemitism, where doing so will advance its anti-gay rights agenda. The NOM strategy documents revealed a plan to hire an employee specifically to find children of gay parents, willing to denounce their parents on camera. While that effort appears to have flopped, the Regnerus study could be viewed as an underhanded attempt to make it appear — on false pretenses —  that children of gay parents have provided “testimony” against all gay parents.

It might be considered noteworthy, furthermore, that a Regnerus study, “National Study on Youth and Religion,” was funded by the Lilly Endowment, one of the few major foundations to fund religion. The Regnerus-Lilly Endowment study alleged to have found that children do better when raised in conformity with a religious tradition. Regnerus’s Trinity Christian College bio says that he believes his anti-gay-rights faith should inform his research.

Between Regnerus 1) saying that it takes too long to get money from NIH; and 2) his admission that going through NIH, instead of through NOM’s Robert George for funding would have worked  ”to the long-term benefit of science;” one might have an impression that Regnerus was eager for the money, and willing to compromise his professional integrity by rushing his study through in order that his patron  – NOM’s Robert George — should have it in time for use as a political weapon in the 2012 elections. If Regnerus is a scientist, and getting funding for the study from the National Institute of Health would — by his own admission — have worked to the long-term benefit of science, then why instead of serving his profession in the most honorable method did Regnerus take funding from an anti-gay-rights political activist, and then get the study finished with a slant favorable to his anti-gay-rights campaigning, and in time for the 2012 elections?

Since the release of the study, various organizations connected with Robert George, as well as the entire religious right wing have been promoting the study as proof that gays hurt children and so must not be given rights.

Meanwhile, Regnerus school, the University of Texas, Austin, has an academic dishonesty policy that forbids using misinformation in an attempt to hurt others.

I am going to repeat that for emphasis: the University of Texas, Austin, has an academic dishonesty policy that forbids using misinformation in an attempt to hurt others.

Therefore, this reporter has filed a Scientific Misconduct Complaint against Regnerus through the EthicsPoint online system, which the Texas State University System uses for receipt of complaints.  An EthicsPoint official told me that the complaint will not be delivered to the UTA employee implicated in it, but that university officials are the only persons with authority to decide whether to investigate. An initial report about the status of the investigation is due in ten days.

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has started a petition, asking UTA President William Powers, Jr. to investigate Regnerus.

Regnerus’s written report says that his study was supported “in part” by the $785,000 grants had through NOM’s Robert George’s Witherspoon Institute and Bradley Foundation.

This reporter asked UTA media contacts for information about who supplied Regnerus with the rest of his funding, and how much they gave. I also asked for a record of disbursement of study funds. I have specified that I want to report how much Regnerus paid himself out of the grant monies for completion of the study.

UTA’s College of Liberal Art’s Director of Public Affairs David Ochsner says that only Witherspoon ($675,000) and the Bradley Foundation ($90,000) supported the study. Yet, Regnerus in his written report on the study unambiguously makes it sound as though support for the study only came “in part” from Witherspoon and the Bradley Foundation. Here is how he put it: “The NFSS was supported in part by grants from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation.” If Regnerus can not use English precisely for so simple a detail related to his study, why should anybody trust him to use English any more accurately to reflect his study findings? This error in wording speaks to how study quality suffered as a result of  the study being rushed to make a deadline. At the same time, we must be mindful that there actually might have been additional funders, whom Regnerus is shielding by denying that anybody other than Witherspoon and the Bradley Foundation supported his study.

Another eyebrow-raising tidbit: Ochsner informs that the Witherspoon Institute money included a $35,000 “planning grant.” Evidently, had Witherspoon not been pleased with Regnerus’s planning of the study, Witherspoon might have taken the rest of its money elsewhere.

Regnerus’s study was published in the journal “Social Science Research,” edited by James Wright, who has written demeaningly about same-sex marriage in some of his published papers. Wright simultaneously published in his journal an article by Loren Marks, who was educated at the severely anti-gay Brigham Young University. Although Marks in his article seeks to discredit researchers who have found positive results of gay parenting, observers have noted that anti-gay-rights groups attempted to use Marks as an “expert witness” in a Proposition 8-related case, but his video testimony had to be stricken from the record after it was revealed through questioning that he had not at all studied same-sex parents, a circumstance not altogether unlike that involving Regnerus’s study.

To sum up the case: 1) Regnerus admits that the way he carried out his NOM-Robert George-funded study was not in the best long-term interest of science; 2) Regnerus converted from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism; his Church is actively involved worldwide in fighting against gay rights; 3) Regnerus admits in his published study that he can not claim any causation between having a gay parent and a bad child outcome, but, nonetheless; 4) he appears on ABC television, strongly suggesting that his study did show that homosexual parents are dangerous to children, and his activity in promoting the study that way is 5) totally in line with the way NOM and George’s other anti-gay groups are promoting Regnerus’s study. Additionally, though serving science well with this study would have required that Regnerus spend more time to complete it, he completed it in time for his funder Robert George to use it as an anti-gay-rights political weapon in the 2012 elections. And finally, the University of Texas, Austin, has an academic dishonesty policy that forbids using misinformation in an attempt to hurt others.

New York City– based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT– interest by– line has appeared on Advocate .com, PoliticusUSA .com, The New York Blade, Queerty .com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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{ 5 comments }

Str8Grandmother June 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Very Good Scott! Very Very Good!!!!
Don't forge when you file your ethics complaint to show how Regnerus has stated that Heterosexually headed families are the GOLD STANDARD.
I am particularly flabbergasted by this statement of Regnerus,

June 11, 2012 National Review Kathryn Jean Lopez

Lopez: How is it different than a child growing up with a single mother raising him or a single father raising her? Or a grandmother or . . . there are all kinds of scenarios, of course? Why focus on same-sex households?

Regnerus: Yes, many scenarios are possible, and for kids whose mothers had a same-sex relationship, they were more likely to experience a variety of senarios, including living with grandparents. Why the focus on same-sex households? That was the key research question, basically. We wanted to know if the “no differences” thesis that has become almost an assumption in scholarly circles was true when put to the test of a large, nationally representative sample and a detailed survey of lots of different outcomes.

Lopez: So are young adults from step- and single-parent families much different? What is the gold standard?

Regnerus: Yes, adults who lived in step- and single-parent families exhibit a variety of differences, on average, from the gold standard of a married mom and dad (who are still together when the respondent is an adult). It calls into question, in fact, the common “wait till the kids are out of the house to divorce” mentality.

Lopez: What is the reigning academic view of children in same-sex families? How does this study depart from that view? Do you anticipate engagement from academia?

Regnerus: No substantive differences, on things that matter. That’s been the emergent view. This study definitely affirms that there is a gold standard. Yes, I anticipate engagement from scholars, and that is fine and welcome. I think there is plenty we can agree on.

(SGM- You REALLY should read this whole article at National Review.)
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302455/mom-a

Excuse me? I didn't see any Gold Standards? I did not see Regnerus comparing Married Same Sex Couples to Married Heterosexual Couples in his New Family Structures Study, do you see that?

Scott_Rose June 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Thank you for your comment, Str8Grandmother; That surely is an example of Regnerus politically propagandizing about his study, claiming things that his study does not actually say.

Str8Grandmother June 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Scott David Blankenhorn just came out for same sex marriage. He Evolved!!!!
Ask everyone to send Blankenhorn a THANK YOU. I called and got his e-mail address. Blankenhorn@AmericanValues.org

jmi2 June 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm

putting the money aside, the methodology used is so flawed that a public university of note must question how the work reflects on the institution; there are so many research mistakes it doesn't even qualify as a sham but as cause for dismissal, loss of tenure, etc.

Drbill1908 June 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Regnerus and his article are a menace. However Scott Rose's piece shows very little familiarity with NIH funding including peer review, the dire research funding situation in academia in general, sampling strategies, the journal peer review process etc etc. for example Regnerus is correct that one can never draw generalizations about a group from a convenience sample. But-having a systematically drawn sample does not automatically mean that one's research is valid. And Regnerus's research is not valid. There is also at the very least a strong appearance of conflict of interest between funder and grantee that needs to be examined. Finally one cannot be a researcher and an advocate at the same time-Regnerus seems to want to be both.

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