Mark Regnerus and Anti-Gay ‘Science’

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By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly
Right now in Michigan the state ban on same sex marriage is facing a legal challenge. Reuters reports: April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who live in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, are asking [District Judge Bernard] Friedman to overturn a state law that prevents them from adopting each other's children in addition to taking on the state ban on gay marriage, which was approved as a constitutional amendment by voters in 2004. The state has defended the law citing ‘the will of the people’ (from ten years ago) and the ‘wellbeing of children’. One of the witnesses for the state is Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at University of Texas at Austin. Regnerus’ name might seem familiar--in 2012 he published a journal article arguing that children of same sex parents faced disadvantages that children of different sex parents did not. This flew in the face of decades of studies showing that children of same sex parents do not face any disadvantages at all. Conservatives ate this up and embraced the report since it seemed that--for once--science agreed with them instead of discrediting everything they believe in. Unsurprisingly, Regnerus was discredited within a few months. The Southern Poverty Law Center published an interview with Professor Darren Sherkat of Southern Illinois University who conducted an audit of the study and tore it to shreds. There were methodology issues, conflicts of interest, and Regnerus had taken funding from conservative think tanks to support his study. The report wasn’t science at all, it was quackery. But that seems to be the best defense the state of Michigan can muster. Slate has a good article up right now on the Michigan trial and how ridiculous Regnerus is: His testimony includes the claim that, based on his research, “to be stably rooted in your married mother and father’s household is to foster the greatest chance at lifelong flourishing.†No, it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. Let’s be clear why: As a social scientist, you cannot claim something has superior outcomes to something else if you haven’t examined the something else. And, ideally, you shouldn’t be able to have your research repeatedly and correctly knocked down and then keep repeating the same conclusions with impunity.  It’s clear that Regnerus, a conservative Catholic who has acknowledged that his research is informed by his faith, conducts his studies in an effort to block gay marriage. It’s equally clear that anti-gay bias shapes his beliefs more than concern for kids and families.  Remember, there is no reputable science that backs up the idea that gay people are better or worse than straight people. Science can’t even measure the ‘goodness’ of a person, that’s not a thing. There are just people with who act according to their natures and personal histories. Some of these people are really nice and some of them are complete assholes. Some of these people will be awesome parents and some of them will be terrible parents. TERRIBLE. But years of studies by scientists show that it’s not related to their sexual orientation. You can’t even compare that to the opinions of a shrinking group of people who interpret a few phrases in a book that was written by multiple people thousands of years ago in a completely different culture that couldn’t even comprehend what life would be like today. BlogTail_TJ (1)