Ruling aids challenge to gay-parenting study
Poor outcomes found in same-sex homes
A gay-parenting study condemned by gay activists is about to undergo more scrutiny: A Florida judge this week said internal emails related to the study must be turned over to a gay activist who is looking for evidence to have the study officially discredited and retracted.
Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Grincewicz in Orange County, Fla., ruled Tuesday that internal emails and other materials of editor James Wright are public records and should be turned over to John M. Becker, a gay writer and activist.
Mr. Wright is editor-in-chief of the prestigious journal Social Science Research, which in June 2012 published a gay-parenting study by University of Texas at Austin sociology professor Mark Regnerus.
The study — which found poor outcomes in adults who were raised by a parent who engaged in a same-sex relationship — was praised by conservatives for finally challenging the “gay orthodoxy” that children raised by gays do as well as children raised by their married mother and father.
But the Regnerus study was swiftly condemned as “junk science” by gay-rights activists and allies.
As part of the efforts to get the Regnerus study retracted, Mr. Becker has been seeking Mr. Wright’s “public records” to prove that the study was not properly peerreviewed and possibly even pre-ordained to find poor outcomes for children raised by gays.
The case involved the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando because Social Science Research is housed at UCF. Mr. Wright is also a UCF sociology professor.
UCF officials initially declined to comply with Mr. Becker’s “public records” request, saying these materials were not university business. However, Judge Grincewicz’s decision on Tuesday overruled the university by ordering the release of materials related to the Regnerus study.
Ellen Kahn of the Human Rights Campaign — whose foundation helped fund Mr. Becker’s legal efforts — praised the ruling.
“There has always been a dark cloud over the Regnerus study,” said Ms. Kahn. “But sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the public has the right to know how junk science gets published in a scholarly journal.”
A request for an interview with an official of UCF was not immediately answered Wednesday, but Knight News, which follows UCF news, said there was another court hearing Thursday.
Mr. Becker was also not immediately available for an interview, but he wrote on the Bilerico Project that “the light is at the end of the tunnel, folks.” With Mr. Wright’s records, “we’ll finally uncover the full truth behind the discredited Regnerus study for ourselves,” Mr. Becker wrote.
Separately, a petition on change.org is demanding that UCF officials pressure Mr. Wright to admit he knowingly published an “anti-gay hit job” and retract Mr. Regnerus’ and other studies.
Mr. Regnerus’ study used a dataset of nearly 3,000 U.S. adults, age 18 to 39, called the New Family Structures Study.
The dataset — viewed as a “gold standard” because its participants were selected randomly from the population — asked people about their current lives and their childhoods, including whether they had a parent who had a same-sex partner.
Some 175 adults said their mother had a same-sex partner; 73 said the same about their father.
When the adults raised by a “lesbian mother” were compared to adults raised by their married mother and father, the former group was significantly more likely to have been on welfare as a child and be on welfare as an adult. They were also more likely to have been “touched sexually” by a parent or other adult during childhood, been “forced to have sex unwilfully,” and be currently or recently in therapy. Adults with a lesbian mother were also less likely to identify as “100 percent heterosexual” or be employed full time.
Mr. Regnerus said his findings contradicted the prevailing view that there are “no notable differences” for children if they have gay parents versus married heterosexual parents. He also cautioned that his study did not attempt to “undermine or affirm” arguments about gay rights, or even link poor adult outcomes solely to gay parenting.
The outcry over Mr. Regnerus’ study, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?,” prompted the University of Texas at Austin to investigate. However, officials there said in September 2012 they had cleared Mr. Regnerus of all allegations of misconduct in his research.
Gay activists and their allies say 30 years of studies do not find significant differences between children raised by gays and heterosexual parents. Part of their outrage is that the Regnerus paper has been cited in legal briefs, including those presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in gay-marriage cases.