Mark Regnerus’ Junk Science under Scrutiny in Michigan Marriage Equality Case

by HRC Staff

Plaintiffs call Regnerus an unreliable and irrelevant expert because of his debunked 2012 study


Washington – The plaintiffs in a Michigan district court case challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality are calling for Mark Regnerus to be barred from testifying because of the roundly rejected junk science he peddled in a 2012 report demonizing gay and lesbian parents. In their motion, the plaintiffs cite Regnerus’ “flawed methodology” in his biased research, and point out that hundreds of scholars as well as the American Sociological Association were quick to highlight the study’s glaring flaws and biases.

“While Mark Regnerus’ work has been rejected by fellow social scientists, scholars and the American Sociological Association, some continue to use it as a means of justifying discrimination against LGBT people and their families,” said Ellen Kahn, M.S.S, of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “This study is a clear outlier among 30 years’ worth of social science that suggest children thrive equally well in two parent households, regardless of the genders of their parents. It’s time for opponents of equality to stop using this junk science as a crutch to support their discriminatory work.”

Almost from the moment it was released, the 2012 New Family Structures Study raised red flags among family scholars for its results that suggest children are less likely to thrive when raised by gay and lesbian parents than if raised by straight parents. The 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.  

The University of Central Florida, which houses the publication that originally published Regnerus’ report, is currently engaged in a legal battle to block the release of over 50,000 documents related to the flawed study.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation funded the litigation in the Florida legal battle and launched a website, the Regnerus Fallout, dedicated to detailing the flaws, funding, and real purpose of the study. More information is available at

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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