HRC Blog

Mark Regnerus Uses Debunked Research to Support Anti-Equality Efforts in Utah

Mark Regnerus is once again using junk science from his roundly discredited 2012 study to make the case for denying equality to LGBT Americans. Regnerus yesterday signed on to an amicus brief filed in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which is currently considering the constitutionality of Utah’s ban on marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples.

The brief cites Regnerus’ 2012 New Family Structures Study as a reason for “view[ing] with healthy suspicion” the idea that there are no major differences in outcomes between children raised by same-sex and opposite-sex parents. The findings from Regnerus’ study stand in contrast to 30 years’ worth of social science that suggest that children thrive equally well in two parent households, regardless of the genders of their parents.

“Mark Regnerus claims his anti-LGBT research had no ideological grounding, yet he continues to use his faulty work as a means of denying equality to LGBT people and families,” said Ellen Kahn, M.S.S, of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the bad science Regnerus put forth in the New Family Structures Study was intended to be nothing more than a resource for harming LGBT people and spreading patently false information about our families.”

Regnerus’ 2012 report is riddled with problems. For example, the study’s so-called “straight” households featured heterosexual parents in committed, long-term relationships, whereas the so-called “gay” households failed to feature same-sex couples in comparable relationships. There were also conflicts of interest among individuals and organizations who were both funding and working on the study, as well as a questionable peer review process. As a result, hundreds of scholars and the American Sociological Association were quick to point out the study’s glaring flaws and biases.

Regnerus has previously testified against marriage equality in legislative hearings, and even cited his discredited research in amicus briefs filed in the marriage equality cases before the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Last week, the plaintiffs in a Michigan district court case challenging the state’s ban asked for Regnerus to be barred from testifying. The anti-LGBT group the Family Research Council also recently cited Regnerus’ work in testimony supporting Indiana’s proposed ban on marriage equality.

Regnerus’ faulty research has been most damaging in Russia – where it has been used as evidence for archaic and damaging legislation that criminalized “homosexual propaganda” in the country and banned the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and individuals living in countries with marriage equality. It even was used to support proposed legislation that would allow the Russian state to remove children from an LGBT parent or someone assumed to be LGBT.

HRC has launched a website, the Regnerus Fallout, dedicated to detailing the flaws, funding, and real purpose of the study. More information is available at www.regnerusfallout.org.

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