Mark’s Regnerus’ study on same-sex parenting was never meant to study same-sex parenting, and the agreement that funded it did not specify that he should make any effort to do so.
That’s a shocker. Even if you’ve been following this from the beginning…that’s a shocker.
The University of Texas has begun releasing documents concerning the study and the agreement for its funding. Here’s a screen-grab from Appendix A of that agreement, specifying which three groups the study should focus on:
Having trouble reading it? These are the three groups [emphasis added]:
- Lived with a parent who had a romantic relationship with a member of the same gender (whether the romantic relation lived with the respondent [i.e., the child] or not)
- Lived with an adoptive parent who was neither related by biology nor marriage
- Lived with a single biological parent who lived with a member of the other gender but did not marry
Do you see what’s missing from that list? Children who were raised by same-sex parents. This study on same-parenting never required Regnerus to find — or even look for — children raised by same-sex parents.
This is enormous. Both Regnerus and a slew of anti-groups have presented his work as a revelation in the study of same-sex parenting. The National Organization for Marriage lies about this consistently, and Regnerus talked about his results this way in an interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review:
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 [of a married mom and dad].
However, we’ve known from the beginning that Regnerus didn’t report outcomes for same-sex parenting, but for kids with a parent who at some point had a same-sex relationship. Only a small fraction of these kids spent even as little as three years being raised by same-sex parents.
And when Regnerus is asked why he didn’t find more stable, same-sex parenting families he responds, “Well, they just were not that common in the nationally representative population.” But it would have been more honest for him to say, “Reporting stable same-sex parents? Oh, that was never something we planned to do.”
Meanwhile, keep in mind that this is part of the agreement for the study:
Moreover, because there have been no large-scale studies of young adults who have spent time in households with two parents of the same sex, the NFSS seeks to field exactly such a study.
But — and let say this one more time, because it bears repeating and repeating:
Regnerus says he couldn’t report on stable same-sex parented families because he couldn’t find enough, but in fact, from the very beginning, the study never mandated that he even look for them. The parameters for this study on same-sex parenting explicitly state it does not matter whether the children were raised by same-sex parents.
And in case you think I’m being unfair, remember that the study specified exactly three groups to focus on:
- When it came to adoptive families, the study mandated that the child live with both those adults.
- When it came to a parent with an unmarried opposite sex partner, the study mandated that the child live with both those adults.
- But when it came to a parent with a same-sex partner, the study mandated…nothing at all about the child living with both those adults.
So now we know: no matter how Regnerus tried to spin his work after its release, this alleged study on same-sex parenting never required that same-sex parents even be located, much less studied. This is damning. Note that I’m not throwing an ad hominem attack at the researchers, the funding sources, or the publicists. None of those people matter to the validity of this critique. No, this is a case of the study damning itself, not in its conclusion or its implementation, but much earlier than that. The study damns itself from the beginning, in the tainted agreement that kicked the whole thing off.