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Controversies with Coren
November 12, 2012
Activist attempts to destroy the reputation of Dr. Mark Regnerus are not the exception, but the norm.
Nanette Gartrell (l) and Mark Regnerus (r).
Well, that puts an end to any doubts anybody had at any time that there was anything wrong with same-sex marriage. “Study: Teens With Lesbian Mothers Do Better In School, Happier In Life" screamed a headline from, all of all places, CBS Les, er, Las Vegas. “Teens living in homes with lesbian mothers are proving to be more successful in school and generally happier in life” the article said. “A new study has found that 17-year-olds with lesbian mothers had high school GPAs ranging between A-minus to B-plus, while having strong family bonds with their mothers, whom the teens consider good role models.” The piece went on to describe how the teens in the study feel connected to their families, admire their parents, and are models of young people. The principal investigator jubilantly explained, “As a psychiatrist, I can say that these are the types of child-rearing outcomes that every parent hopes for.”

So, that—as they say—is that. But hold on just one little moment. First, the psychiatrist and lead investigator in question is one Nanette Gartrell, a noted lesbian activist, who has co-edited a book titled, Everyday Mutinies: Funding Lesbian Activism. She is “married” to Diane "Dee" Mosbacher, described as “a lesbian feminist who has directed or produced nine documentary films, each having to do with LGBTQ or Women’s Rights issues.” The research, or what passes for research, was published in the Journal of Homosexuality (and is available online in PDF format), “covering research into sexual practices and gender roles in their cultural, historical, interpersonal, and modern social contexts.” In other words, both the person conducting the study and the journal publishing the results are agenda-driven, radical, and committed to propagating the idea that homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and homosexual parenting are all perfectly acceptable, and perhaps even preferable to their heterosexual alternatives.

People are allowed to be odd and misleading in a free society, but it is one of the duties of a responsible media to question or perhaps even dismiss the work of such people. Instead, one of the largest networks in the world, CBS, took this nonsense as being revealed truth, and disguised as fact something that is utter nonsense.

Compare this to how a far more serious and credible study of the same issue was treated when its results revealed fundamentally different results. In early 2012 University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus published a paper in the July 2012 edition of the journal, Social Science Research. He has a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina, has spent more than a decade in academic research, and has written two positively and peer-reviewed books. So, Regnerus is no fringe player.

His work revealed that 23% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother answered “yes” to the question, has “a parent or other adult caregiver ever touched you in a sexual way, forced you to touch him or her in a sexual way, or forced you to have sexual relations?”, compared to 6% of those who came from families with a gay father and only 2% of those now-grown children from families with a heterosexual mother and a father. 31% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother responded “yes” when asked if they had ever been forced to have sex against their will, compared to 25% of those of families with a gay father and only 8% of those now-grown children from the mother and father families.

12% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said “yes” when asked if they had recently considered suicide, compared to 24% of those from families with a gay father, and a mere 5% of those now-grown children from heterosexual families with a mother and a father. Also, only 61% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said “yes” when asked if they identify as entirely heterosexual, compared to 71% of those of families with a gay father and an enormous 90% of those now-grown children from mother and father households.

Regnerus’ study concluded that children from heterosexual, traditional families were more likely to have jobs, to vote and participate in the political process, to feel closer and more loving to their parents, were less likely to have addiction issues, are more sexually responsible, and become better all-round citizens and happier people. In concluding remarks, Regnerus wrote, “When compared with children who grew up in biologically (still) intact, mother–father families, the children of women who reported a same-sex relationship look markedly different on numerous outcomes, including many that are obviously suboptimal (such as education, depression, employment status, or marijuana use).”

But it’s vital to realize that the author of the study never claimed it to be definitive, unlike earlier studies and general cultural consensus fed to us that gay parents are the same as non-gay parents, and that if anything their children are superior. “I am thus not suggesting,” wrote Regnerus, “that growing up with a lesbian mother or gay father causes suboptimal outcomes because of the sexual orientation or sexual behavior of the parent; rather, my point is more modest: the groups display numerous, notable distinctions, especially when compared with young adults whose biological mother and father remain married.” He also wrote, “I have not and will not speculate here on causality.” In other words, Regnerus was presenting research based on the available facts.

What happened next, however, was hideous.

Regnerus was subject to a concerted attack intended not to take issue with his findings but to end his career. The campaign began by groups of people arguing that the study’s research was flawed, in that some of the lesbian mothers and gay fathers might be bisexual, or involved in relationships with heterosexuals. This, they argued, completely invalidated any conclusions. It doesn’t of course, but more to the point this fact was stated quite clearly by Regnerus himself, in the interests of truth and because he wanted to make sure that the survey was entirely fair.

When this attack failed, personal abuse began and the author’s integrity, motives, and intelligence were questioned. The New Republic stated, in a June 12 piece titled “It's Time for Mark Regnerus to Get Collectively Dumped,” that it was “a real relief to see the takedowns pile up in response to” the man and his material. Extraordinary. An allegedly credible and influential left-wing magazine argues it is a relief to see a mild-mannered academic and young father attacked because his purely scholarly sociological and statistical exploration of a highly controversial issue gives answers that are contrary to the beliefs of the liberal elites.

The Los Angeles Times opined that Regnerus’ work was “hopelessly flawed,” but didn’t support the premise at all. This was all a reaction to the smashing of a dream, to facts getting in the way of gay aspirations and progressive ambitions. They wanted a thing to be so, and when it wasn’t they attacked the messenger. Letters were written to academic societies and to newspapers and journals, there were irresponsible and misleading headlines, attacks not only on Regnerus but also on the organizations that funded his study, and publishers were pressurized.

Then a journalist with the pseudonym Scott Rose, who describes himself as a “minorities anti-defamation professional,” wrote a letter to the University of Texas administration that could well have ended Regnerus’ career. Rose claimed Regenrus had falsified data, made things up, and broken the most fundamental laws and code of academic research. Even the accusation is enormously damaging. But this accusation was brought by an unqualified man with no expertise in the field who obviously had a pronounced agenda, so the complaint would surely be dismissed and ignored. Not so, not here, not where same-sex marriage is concerned. The university listened to this man, and launched an investigation.

Eventually, in late August, the university concluded that they had “determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus.” This was based on the investigation done by Dr. Alan Price, a former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who concluded that “this case was handled by the Research Integrity Officer and University of Texas at Austin officials in a process consistent with the University policy and procedures for scientific misconduct.”

But why the witch hunt in the first place? For the same reason, of course, that the fairy-tale work mentioned at the start of this column was given so much positive attention by CBS. Be warned: it’s going to get worse and not better.
 
About the Author
Michael Coren 

Michael Coren is the host of The Arena, a nightly television show broadcast on the Canadian network Sun News, and a columnist whose work appears in numerous publications across Canada. He is the author of 15 books, the most recent of which is The Future of Catholicism (Signal Books/Random House). His website is www.michaelcoren.com, where his books can be purchased and he can be booked for speeches.
 

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