Regnerus, Same-Sex Marriage, and False Witness

Slate’s Nathaniel Frank has a long, impassioned article today about The Shamelessness of Professor Mark Regnerus.

Regnerus is the guy whose study about gay parents, financed by anti-gay organizations and roundly rejected by sociological organizations as deeply flawed, is still cited by anti-gay-marriage forces as the best they can come up with about the supposed harm to children raised by gay parents. This week, he’s testifying in the state of Michigan’s defense of its ban of same-sex marriage (the latest of many such trials).

There’s one problem: Regnerus’ research doesn’t show what he says it does. Not remotely. No research ever has. Yet Regnerus, unchastened by a chorus of professional criticism correctly pointing out the obvious flaws in his work—including a formal reprimand in an audit assigned by the journal that published his piece—continues to make these groundless claims, knowing full well they are baseless.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the critical flaw in his study is that he attributes the effects on children of having gay parents to the effects on children of having parents who separated from their former spouses and found new partners — which is to say, in a sense, ‘broken homes’. He had virtually no data about kids raised in stable, same-sex households. (No doubt because such households have been rare, but that doesn’t excuse his misrepresentation.)

Why does he persist? Frank points out that

It’s clear that Regnerus, a conservative Catholic who has acknowledged that his research is informed by his faith, conducts his studies in an effort to block gay marriage. It’s equally clear that anti-gay bias shapes his beliefs more than concern for kids and families.

And Frank makes a point that Dan Savage made earlier today in his coverage of this Michigan trial.

If Michigan believes that children have a right to be raised by their married biological moms and dads… why is it legal in Michigan for straight couples with small children to divorce? Why is it legal for single people to adopt children in Michigan? Why is it legal for single women to undergo IVF in Michigan? Men who get women pregnant in Michigan are not legally obligated to marry the mothers of their children and single women in Michigan who get pregnant are not legally obligated to marry the fathers of their children. Michigan wants to see children raised by their biological moms and dads but the state only penalizes same-sex couples—and most same-sex couples do not have children, most have no plans to have children, and same-sex couples never have children by accident.

Somehow Christians are very concerned about gay parents but not so much about single parents or divorced parents. Not legally.

Also a link to one of John Corvino’s great videos.

As in so many issues about Christian animus toward the modern world, I am reminded, as other commentators have noted, of the commandment, one of those ten, about not bearing false witness. Not misrepresenting. Not lying. How do these people reconcile their actions in light of obvious evidence that what they are doing is misrepresenting? Are they dimwits, or are they hypocrites?

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