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Documents Reveal Anti-Gay Parenting Study Was Manipulated To Influence Supreme Court

By Zack Ford on March 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

"Documents Reveal Anti-Gay Parenting Study Was Manipulated To Influence Supreme Court"

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Mark Regnerus

Mark Regnerus has admitted his “family structures” study didn’t actually measure gay parenting, comparing the children of separated parents who had same-sex relationships with those of married opposite-sex parents. An internal auditor of the journal that published the Regnerus study last year concluded its findings were “bullshit” because this false comparison doesn’t adequately measure same-sex parenting. Nevertheless, conservatives have repeatedly cited the study, even to the Supreme Court, claiming same-sex couples are unfit to raise children to substantiate their opposition to marriage equality, even though medical professionals have thoroughly debunked its claims. Now, documents reveal that the anti-gay conservatives who originally funded the study conspired before data was even collected to produce results that could influence “major decisions of the Supreme Court.”

The American Independent collected internal documents through public-records requests from the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, which funded the Regnerus study, and found that its president intended the study to produce a result against gay parenting before it was even conducted. This is not surprising, as both the Witherspoon Institute, as well as the study’s other funder, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, are connected to Robert George, founding co-chair of the National Organization for Marriage and prominent legal opponent of marriage equality. Now these emails confirm that suspicion.

For example, the University of Texas hired academic consultant W. Bradford Wilcox to conduct data analysis on the Regnerus study, ignoring that he was a longtime fellow of the Witherspoon Institute and was still working with Witherspoon while the study was conceptualized. Regnerus reached out to Wilcox back in September of 2010 for input about “their hopes for what emerges from this project.” Wilcox also suggested the study be pitched to the journal Social Science Research, where Wilcox sits on the editorial advisory board.

The study was also rushed, with Witherspoon president Luis Tellez telling Regnerus in 2010 that the study should “move along as expeditiously as possible”:

TELLEZ: It would be great to have this before major decisions of the Supreme Court but that is secondary to the need to do this and do it well. I would like you to take ownership and think of how would you want it done, rather than someone like me dictating parameters but of course, here to help.

Tellez confirmed to The American Independent that he was referring to same-sex marriage cases. In April 2011 — a year before the study was complete — Tellez wrote in a letter that “we are confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study as long as it is done honestly and well.” He also suggested that no prior study had properly compared children raised by a mother and father and those “headed by gay and lesbian couples, but of course the Regnerus study doesn’t even do that.

The study was submitted for publication in February 2012 before Regnerus had even completed all of the data collection and accepted just six weeks later, while many other articles published in the same issue took a year between submission and acceptance. Peer review was similarly hurried, with one social demographer admitting that he only had two weeks to review the study and offer a commentary — without even having access to all the data.

These documents vindicate suspicions that the study was politically calculated. Indeed, at every step of the process, the goal of this study was always to undermine same-sex parenting, not learn anything of its potential value. In truth, with the fraudulent methodology on national display, it has only served to reveal the animus behind those opposed to LGBT equality.

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