Mark Regnerus is a darling of the religious right. As the author of a thoroughly discredited study that purports to show that the children of gay parents are prone to STDs, alcoholism and drug use, Regnerus is the one slender reed upon which the right can hang its claim to having an expert witness.
After his testimony in the challenge to Michigan’s ban on marriage equality, Regnerus probably isn’t that any more. Not only has his profession abandoned him, so has his university and his own department in it.
In an amazing rebuke to one of its own faculty members, the sociology department at the University of Texas at Austin issued a statement in conjunction with Regnerus’s testimony that basically hung one of its own out to dry:
Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department of The University of Texas at Austin. Nor do they reflect the views of the American Sociological Association, which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families. We encourage society as a whole to evaluate his claims.
The Sociology Department at The University of Texas at Austin aspires to achieve academic excellence in research, teaching, and public service at the highest level in our discipline. We strive to do so in a context that is based on the highest ethical standards of our discipline and in a context that actively promotes and supports diversity among our faculty and student populations.
Ouch. By contrast, all the University itself did was say Regnerus represented no one but himself.
Under cross-examination Tuesday, Regnerus acknowledged the criticism. “I guess they just want to distance themselves from me,” he said.
Why would that be?
At the same time, Regnerus had to own up to stacking the deck in his favor when he designed the study by having only two of the 3,000 children in his study actually come from stable households with same-sex parents. Half of the kids in the study grew up in families where one parent later came out. A vast array of studies has found that children who grew up in same-sex households are as well adjusted as kids from comparable heterosexual households. That the right is using the gay threat to children as its excuse to halt marriage equality shows how desperately it clings to legal reasoning that the Supreme Court completely rejected.
Regnerus couldn’t stop himself from floating his latest insinuation, that pornography leads to marriage equality. Regnerus, who seems to find exactly the defamation he’s looking for when he sets out to study something (especially if he’s paid $700,000 by a right-wing group for it), claims that both gay and straight people are “more likely to support same-sex marriage after they were exposed to pornography.”
Regnerus testified that a cause-and-effect relationship between pornography and marriage equality hadn’t been proven yet (perhaps because it only exists in the minds of disordered academics). However, any causal relationship between the two has yet to be established, Regnerus said under cross-examination. But, he added: “It’s an interesting correlation.”
Perhaps the more interesting correlation is between Regnerus’s testimony and the complete disintegration of his academic career.
Oh, wait. That would be cause and effect.