There’s a saying among lawyers. “When the facts are on your side, pound on the jury. When the law is on your side, pound on the judge. When neither is on your side, pound on the table.”
The lawyers defending Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court of the United States don’t have the law on their side, nor do they have valid facts. So they decided to pound on the table with a study they claim proves that children raised in same-sex households don’t fare as well as children raised in traditional family units. The study was discredited on several grounds back in 2012.
For one thing it doesn’t study same-sex parents, let alone compare how children in same-sex households fare with children raised by one man and one women in a heterosexual relationship. The data used doesn’t fit the analysis and conclusions.
The methodology and data are so flawed that its conservative author, Mark Regnurus admitted it back in 2012.
I’d be more careful about the language I used to describe people whose parents had same-sex relationships. I said ‘lesbian mothers’ and ‘gay fathers,’ when in fact, I don’t know about their sexual orientation—I do know about their same-sex relationship behavior. But as far as the findings themselves, I stand behind them.
Regnurus’ professional peers concluded that the data collection and methodology he used were flawed.
Psychology Today pointed to the fact that Regnurus’ definition of same-sex parents was flawed as were his categorizations of parents as gay or lesbian.
Participants were asked, “From when you were born until age 18 (or until you left home to be on your own), did either of your parents ever have a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex?” Respondents who answered “yes” were classified as children of “Lesbian Mothers” or “Gay Fathers” (based on who they recalled as having a same-sex relationship)
As Andrew Perrin points out, this presents several problems.
The definition is not just that a parent ever had a same-sex romantic relationship while the respondent was under 18 (which would be bad enough as an indicator of “gay or lesbian parent”), but that the respondent had to know about that relationship and choose to report it on the survey.
It turned out, that virtually none of the respondents were raised in same-sex households, making it impossible for Regnurus to draw scientifically valid conclusions about the effects of same-sex parenting on children, let alone make comparisons between children raised in same-sex households or in a more traditional family setting.
The Witherspoon Institute commissioned the skewed study that they could use to manipulate public policy and when that failed, the courts.
In October 2013 documents emerged revealing that the Witherspoon institute recruited Regnerus to conduct the study with the intent to influence major decisions by the Supreme Court and manipulate public policy in its favor.
Upon learning of study’s hidden agenda, James Wright, editor of Social Science Research, which published the study, had this to say.
So far as the Supreme Court is concerned, I consider marriage and adoption rights for GLBT people to be a matter of civil rights, i.e., a legal question, not something to be ‘resolved’ by empirical research, and I resent having social science data and research drawn into such debates,
Some of Regnurus’ peers felt he violated scientific ethical standards and filed an ethics complaint with the University of Texas. Though the complaint was dismissed, that doesn’t mean Regnerus conducted the study competently.
In other words, the lawyers defending Utah’s ban on same sex marriage are banging the table with a study on same-sex parents that excludes same-sex parents from the study and was paid for by people who intended to use it to manipulate policy makers and fool the courts.
The fact that this study was discredited begs the question why would lawyers use it? Even if they didn’t bother to read the “evidence” they presented in their brief, a quick google check would have revealed that this study was proven a sham in 2012, even if it keeps resurfacing like a bad penny.
It’s because this “study” is the only game in town for opponents of marriage equality. When the facts aren’t on your side, you bang the table with bull$#!+. This isn’t the first time opponents of marriage equality presented this study to the Supreme Court.
Ideally, the SCOTUS should dismiss this study and investigate if the lawyers who presented it violated professional ethics by using a study that was intended to be less than honest to the court. But, I’m not holding my breath.
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