Rul­ing aids chal­lenge to gay-par­ent­ing study

Poor out­comes found in same-sex homes

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

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.

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