Mark Regnerus’ Discredited Anti-Gay Study Front-and-Center as MI Marriage Equality Trial Begins

by HRC Staff

Washington – The trial in a federal case challenging Michigan’s ban on marriage equality begins tomorrow, and the roundly discredited 2012 anti-gay parenting report from Mark Regnerus is expected to play a central role – the first time that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families and family structures have been debated in a federal court since the trial over California’s Proposition 8. Regnerus’ 2012 study, plagued by flawed methodology and numerous conflicts of interest, alleged that children of same-sex couples experienced more adverse outcomes than children raised by opposite-sex parents. The American Sociological Association – as well as hundreds of Regnerus’ fellow scholars – were quick to dismantle the report because of its glaring flaws.

Regnerus is among several researchers scheduled to testify in favor of Michigan’s ban who also participated in a series of meetings at the Heritage Foundation in 2010. The New York Times reported this weekend that at those meetings participants discussed the need for more research on family structures. One outcome of this meeting was Regnerus’ biased report, funded chiefly by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Mark Regnerus’ research is nothing more than the product of a highly coordinated, well financed strategic campaign aimed at harming LGBT families,” said the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Ellen Kahn, M.S.S. “There’s a reason our opposition had to essentially create this junk science out of thin air: the arguments they want to make go against not only science, but the values held by an increasing number of Americans. We hope that as more people become aware of the corrupt practices behind Regnerus’ study, its appearance in amicus briefs and legislative fights here at home and abroad will diminish.”

HRC’s Regnerus Fallout project is dedicated to tracking the study’s funding and flaws, as well as to calling out where it is cited in new court cases around the country. The Regnerus Fallout website details a number of the problems with the study, ranging from blatant conflicts of interest in the peer review process, to the Witherspoon Institute expressing a desire for the study to be completed prior to rulings in last year’s marriage equality cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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. 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.

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The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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