Intimidation and the Academic Study of Same-Sex “Parents”


Said to be a recent photograph of Professor Mark Regnerus


“He’s never voted for a Republican presidential candidate.”


You might imagine that so pathetic (but obviously noble and correct) an assurance would have spared Dr. Mark Regnerus, a previously respectable sociologist at the University of Texas, some of the personal and professional attacks that one of his relatively recent academic articles has brought down upon his head.


You would be wrong.


The late art critic Clement Greenberg once famously described intellectuals as “a herd of independent minds.”  But he probably underestimated the pressures in certain disciplines to avoid crimethink, which, as any reader of George Orwell’s 1984 knows, is doubleplusungood.  Or perhaps those pressures have grown worse since Greenberg’s day.


Here is a summary of his vile and wicked article by Professor Regnerus (LHA)* himself:


Here is an article from mid-2012, fittingly entitled “Revenge of the Sociologists,” about the fierce and immediate reaction among many bien pensant academics to the “professor’s” contemptible article:


And here, finally, is a piece in which Dr. Regnerus (LHA) attempts to defend his indefensible research:


Question:  Would ruining Dr. Regnerus’s (LHA) career be enough to deter future thoughtcrime on his part or on the part of other potential dissenters?  Should civil or even criminal penalties be invoked?  (Unfortunately, Mr. Orwell’s joycamps don’t yet exist outside of the novel.)



“LHA”:  In Arabic, certain epithets are typically appended to particular terms:  Thus, for example, “God” or “Allah” is almost always followed by ta‘alla (“Exalted be He”) or some variant of that, and “Muhammad” is followed by sala Allah alayhi wa salam  (“blessings and peace be upon him,” or even, in English, “BPUH”).  Names of revered saintly figures such as Imam ‘Ali typically have radi‘a Allahu ‘anhu (“May God be pleased with him”) attached to them.  My favorite epithet, though, is the comparatively rare la‘anahu Allah (“May God curse him”), which follows such names as that of Ibn Muljam, who assassinated Imam ‘Ali.  I represent it here by “LHA.”



They don’t just massacre people
Elder Oaks on religious freedom
A major modern myth and the two men who largely created it
  • Jon

    Why do you place the word parents in quotation marks?

    • DanielPeterson

      I could just as easily have gone the other way, but decided that it was unlikely that they were the biological parents.

      Feel free to take offense or to read malice into it, if you like.

      • Jon

        Unlikely? How did you come to that conclusion?

        • Jon

          Does parenthood depend on biology, in your mind? Would you refer to a married heterosexual couple who adopt a child as “parents”?

          • DanielPeterson

            Biological parenthood does, yes, depend upon biology.

            At least, that’s my hunch.

            I’m headed out for dinner with my wife and some friends. Have a good evening!

          • Gregory Peterson

            Oh…you’re “married.”

          • etseq

            Me thinks someone is upset about a recent court decision in Utah…:) Its no use arguing with right wingers over science, It’s also very revealing for so called “family values” conservatives to literally mock gay parents by juvenile use of quotation marks.

          • DanielPeterson

            I disagree with it. yes.

            And, yes, thus far your powerful scientific arguments leave me unmoved. (Where are they, by the way?)

            And if, finally, my appalling and horrific use of quotation marks here ranks high among your sorrows and wrongs, you lead an enviably blessed life.

          • Gregory Peterson

            I have had a fairly blessed life, thank you. Obviously, you don’t want that to happen for Gay people, otherwise you wouldn’t be so petty and shameless in your defamation of them..

          • DanielPeterson

            Mr. Peterson, I won’t allow you to use my blog to defame and malign me. Engage in civil and substantive discussion here or leave.

          • Gregory Peterson

            I will. Why waste time with a shameless hypocrite such as yourself who delights in defaming a minority group?

          • Jon

            “Biological parenthood does, yes, depend upon biology.”

            I assume that you agree that many children of same-sex partners are biologically related to one of the partners. In such cases, one partner is a parent while the other partner is a “parent.”

          • DanielPeterson


            How long can you keep this going?

          • Jon

            You’ve provided no basis for stating that it was unlikely that they were the biological parents. It’s not at all unlikely. Thank you for conceding the point.

          • DanielPeterson

            It’s biologically impossible that two men or two women were, together, the biological parents.

            But was one of them a biological parent? Very possibly, even probably. This is a point that I’ve never thought to deny.

            Congratulations on your triumph, though! It was a mighty struggle, but you’ve prevailed.

        • DanielPeterson

          I have no degrees in biology, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that, among mammals in general and humans in particular, reproduction is most likely to occur when both a male and a female are involved.

          • Jon

            Did you read the study? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that gays and lesbians can become parents through several means, including heterosexual unions, IVF, adoption, and surrogacy. It seems to me that

          • Jon

            many of the respondents in Regnerus’ study were the product of heterosexual unions.

          • DanielPeterson

            ALL of them were.

            However it was effected.

      • Gregory Peterson

        People who have biological children and are Gay are “parents,” and not parents? All people who adopt are “parents,” and not parents?

        The only thing that the Regnerus Study really suggests is that children in broken homes, regardless of the sexual orientations of their parents, likely will have a tougher time as adults…hardly news. The study has the appearance of having been written to be distorted into defaming anti-Gay propaganda while having a veneer of academic deniability for the way it has been used.

        • DanielPeterson

          This is fairly typical, I think, of the way in which some vocal ideologues have responded to Professor Regnerus’s article — by attacking his integrity and character.

          I have a low tolerance for such discourse, and won’t permit it to pollute my blog.

          Deal with the issues. Drop the personal insults.

          • Gregory Peterson

            There is no reason to think that the Prof. doesn’t deserve the criticism that he is receiving, given the sources of his funding, such as from the Witherspoon Institute. They put out academic looking hate propaganda with the intent of denying for others what they allow for themselves…all written by tragic victims of motivated reasoning.

            I’ve read a WI published book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain, editors. 2006.” One of the authors, Seana Sugrue, mounts a racist like attack on Gay people, defaming them as being “parasitic” when they adopt children, and distorting Alexis de Tocqueville to label equality under the law for minorities “soft despotism.” (“Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue. She is an Associate Professor of Politics at Ave Maria University.)

            Why would a reputable person accept funding from such an organization so ready to sink to defaming minority people as parasitic? The funding source would already call into question the intellectual integrity of your research.

          • DanielPeterson

            For the record, Gregory Peterson is no relation of mine.

            I’m happy, in this case, that he isn’t, because his description of the Witherspoon Institute is grossly false and his account of the Institute’s involvement with Professor Regnerus’s article is wildly inaccurate and misleading to the point of defamation.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Are you saying that the Witherspoon Institute didn’t publish that defaming book and essay? Are you saying that the Witherspoon Institute wasn’t active in the Regnerus study? Are you saying that an organization which would publish a book saying that minority parents who adopt are being parasitic is a respectable organization?


          • kiwi57

            Gregory Peterson: “Are you saying that an organization which would publish a book saying that minority parents who adopt are being parasitic is a respectable organization?”

            I have read Professor Sugrue’s resonse to that description.

            I am satisfied that you have either misread her argument — possibly out of bias-induced haste — or you are intentionally misrepresenting it.

            In either case, I’ll tell you what I say in response to your question quoted above: and that is that if the facts of the case helped your argument, I rather expect you would rely upon them.

            But you don’t. So you can’t.

            So I’ll conclude that having you attacking them rather tends to raise Sugrue, Regnerus and the Witherspoon Institute in my estimation.

          • Gregory Peterson

            My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same
            Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue

            Here is what I wrote for friends interested in whiteness theory.

            The New Family Structure Study by Mark Regenerus has brought attention to the main source of funding for the study, the Witherspoon Institute. The Regenerus study, according to its website, “is a comparative
            project which seeks to understand how young adults (~ages 18-39) raised by same-sex parents fare on a variety of social, emotional, and relational
            outcomes when compared with young adults raised in homes with their married biological parents, those raised with a step-parent, and those raised in homes
            with two adoptive parents.”

            I didn’t know anything about the Witherspoon Foundation and I wonder about what other projects it has funded. Their website says they also publish books.

            It turns out that a Witherspoon Institute book was easily available to me. “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain, editors. 2006.”

            So, I picked it up and started to read “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue. She is an Associate Professor of Politics at Ave Maria University

            I’m not an academic; I’m an eccentric artist. I’m not an authority on anything I write here, so if something interests you, do your own research in reliable

            An initial impression is that Sugrue doesn’t seem to realize (I hope) that in her zeal to defend heterosexual privilege, she appears to me to be defending THE privileged against the “soft despotism” of minority rights.

            Sugrue begins here essay with “A radical redefinition of
            marriage from the union of one man and one woman, to the union of two consenting adults, is taking root in American life.”

            So…marriage isn’t a union of two consenting adults? Apparently not, as she doesn’t write: “the consensual union of one man and one woman.” The marriage of non-consensual parties is, as near as I can make out, is condoned in the Bible… as is essentially selling your young virgin daughter for a bride price, which could even mean that her betrothed could become an indentured servant to his father in law to pay for his future bride. Indentured servitude may be condoned in the Bible, but even that form of slavery is probably illegal in the United States. This is no doubt further proof of the erosion of religious liberty from the Founding Father’s era, right?

            “Radical” is a relative term. What is radical to Sugrue is
            “overdue reform” to me. “Radical,” to me, would be abolishing state recognition of all marriages and civil unions, with everything that entails.

            As to the definition of “marriage… The meanings of words in English evolve, and a single word can have more than a single meaning. When it comes to social constructs like “marriage,” “meaning” evolves with the social constructs, which usually have fuzzy, blurry boundaries. Sugrue apparently finds that sort of thing discomforting. “Marriage” must have a single meaning,
            and everything else is “radical.”

            She writes a lot about John Locke in her essay. Locke uses a parental unit as a model to explore the purpose of “marriage” and the raising of children. However, “mother, father, children” are necessarily what “family”
            was to Locke. Sugrue ignores the historical context in which the upper class John Locke wrote and presumed about marriage and family.

            A family back then was embedded in a patriarchal unit
            generally called a household. A household could be just the nuclear family of mother/father/children, but more often the nuclear family was embedded in the
            household, a part of a family, not THE family. The father in the nuclear family wasn’t necessarily the patriarch of the household. (See Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation By: Dale B. Martin Westminster John Knox Press / 2006, starting on page 118, The Puritan Revolution. Martin was writing about American Puritans, but I think this is applicable to non-Puritans of the day. However, don’t take my word for it.)

            A household, especially an upper class one, could consist of more than one nuclear family, widows and widowers, the latter could be a ruling patriarch, siblings, uncles and aunts who weren’t of the marrying kind,
            orphaned minors related in some way, apprentices in the family business, and servants…hired, indentured, enslaved…and probably other people as well.

            So, today’s other-sex marriages and “nuclear” families are the result of an earlier “radical redefining” of marriage and family. A redefining of which Locke himself perhaps helped to bring about. Sugrue mentions it, but doesn’t recognize it when she wrote: “Demonstrating an understanding of the dignity and
            equality of women that was ahead of his time…” That was the “radical redefining of marriage.” That was when “biblical” marriage started to become “modern”
            marriage. Respecting the dignity and equality of women is respecting their consent to marriage and respecting why they would want to consent to marriage…not
            only to have a father to her children, but to have a husband, a companion, a soul mate that she could love.

            Marriage before that was about producing legitimate male heirs to their fathers’ estates. You don’t need to love the woman, women, you marry for that. You don’t need her consent to marry. You bought her, or your
            father bought her for you. She was your property for your exclusive use. If you didn’t love her, it wasn’t adultery to find someone you did love, or in some
            way have a need for…as long as, if female, she wasn’t married herself. Adultery was a serious property crime. When the equality of women became honored,
            adultery stopped being a property crime, because women stopped being property. Adultery became a betrayal, broken vows, a tragedy that is, nevertheless, legal behavior.

            Sugrue is also not above name calling and showing her lack of knowledge about biology when she called same-sex couples raising adopted children, “parasitic.”

            Oh right, that’s just what parasites do, Sugrue…use their own resources to raise children to adulthood who aren’t their biological offspring.

            More to come on the essay, I hope.

            Part 2. My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue.

            From a Witherspoon Institute book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals” by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain,
            editors. 2006.

            Here is the context in which Sugrue calls Gay couples who adopt “parasitic.”

            “To this (same sex marriage protects the children under their care), it is countered that the same-sex conception of marriage and family is, and must be, parasitic upon the demise of the conjugal
            society, wherein biological parents are not taking responsibility for the rearing and education of their own
            children. Having no natural justification, the dominion of two adults of the same sex over children in their custody is crucially dependent upon the state
            to enforce their claim to these children as against the claims of the biological parent(s). Same-sex marriage is necessarily a political form of social order, invoking the power of the state to make it so.”

            Sugre, you’re saying that it’s a well-known trait of parasites to expend considerable time, effort and resources to rearing the young who they are not
            related to biologically to adulthood? Are you saying that the state has no legitimacy in regulating the adoption of children?

            Is there a word for people who call law abiding, tax paying productive members of
            a minority group “parasites?”

            If you change “same-sex marriage” to “mixed-race marriage,” Sugrue is making the same sort of argument that the racists made when I was young…that legalizing
            “mixed-race marriage” was about imposing a political order opposed to a natural order upon society. It would take the power of the state to impose those politically
            motivated “special rights,” for what the opposition usually called “sinful and unnatural” relationships, upon the populace, thus rending the fabric of a properly ordered society…and likely to bring God’s wrath down on such a decadent society for flaunting God’s Law. Of course, the children of such unnatural, politically
            motivated couplings were doomed to a lonely life of misery and failure outside the bounds of polite, or even impolite, society.

            A Gay couple doesn’t need the state to make their relationship a marriage. They just need each other to agree that their relationship is a marriage of two souls who love and care for each other. I would have thought that the enslaved people in America had taught us that…marriage is not about legal recognition of marriage. Legal recognition of a marriage is not “marriage,” it is contract law.

            The issue, then, isn’t really about “same-sex marriage,” it’s about who are competent adults when it comes to being a party in a legally recognized, officially
            licensed marriage contract… and, what the state will and won’t do to, or allow or not allow for, those adults in an unlicensed marriage who are judged as
            incompetent in some way to sign a legally recognized marriage contract with each other.

            Apparently, according to some Christians anyway, Gay people are too incompetent to contract a legally recognized marriage contract because they are intrinsically disordered (whatever the hell that racist sounding nonsense means) by their sexual orientation.

            Part 3: My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue.

            From a Witherspoon Institute book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals” by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain,
            editors. 2006.

            There isn’t much of a reason to read this essay further,
            once Sugrue called everyone in a minority group who are likely law abiding, tax paying, productive members of society, and who are trying to provide a good
            home for children, “parasitic.” I think that we can safely dismiss her as a person who will write anything in a blinded, desperate rationalization of privilege and prejudice.

            But, for curiosity’s sake, I’ll continue anyway.

            Perhaps realizing that she may have insinuated that everyone who has adopted children is “parasitic,” she writes, “Nevertheless, it is readily conceded that where social tragedy occurs, adoption may be laudable.” After
            conflating Gay couples who can afford in vitro, surrogate parentage, and inadvertently denigrating all step parents, she writes a couple of pages later:
            “Adoption is a humane and laudable measure to mitigate the tragedy of children without parents willing or able to raise them.”

            It’s humane and laudable if “we” do it, but if “they” do it,
            “…it encourages the severance of children from their biological parents. Children are thereby made vulnerable as it becomes unclear to whom these
            children belong as they are produced, or commodified, to fulfill the desires of adults.”

            So…non-Gay people who have adopted or who are guardians of children have never needed, nor will they ever need, the state to decide and enforce custodial and parentage disputes?

            I came across a similar mindset when I was informally
            studying white supremacy. “The other” might do good acts, but because of who “they” are makes them what “they” are, “they” are simply incapable of being truly good people.

            “They” might pull you from a wrecked, burning car, which is a good act. However, “they” would pull you from the burning car because “they” maybe hoped for some reward for doing a good act, and/or to feel to feel that “they” are as good as “we” are…or even better.

            “We,” on the other hand, because of who “we” are…people who are actually capable of being good people…would be motivated to pull you from a
            wrecked, burning car because of the selfless, “humane and laudable” innate goodness in our hearts.


            We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this important breaking news. Homosexuals are not carbon based life forms. I repeat, homosexuals are not carbon based life forms and are incapable of marriage and raising human children!

            We take you now to Professor Seana Sugrue, of Ave Marie University in Ave Marie Florida, who made this momentous discovery.

            Professor Sugrue…

            “The obligations of parenthood are onerous and are felt to be especially so by (entities such as homosexuals) who demand self-gratification. Furthermore, lacking roots in biology, in tradition, in a
            sense of duty, (homosexual) marriage is not sufficiently resilient to fend off the vicissitudes which the ordinary and extraordinary demands of life place upon all of us….”

            If I may break in with a single question, Professor…

            Of course.

            Please tell me that you’re not tenured…Don’t answer. We take you back, with our deepest apologies, to your regularly scheduled program.

            Part 4: My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue.

            From a Witherspoon Institute book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals” by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain, editors. 2006.

            Part 5: My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue.

            From a Witherspoon Institute book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals” by by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain,
            editors. 2006.

            Sugrue writes: “Same-sex marriage is necessarily a political institution, whereas marriage is pre-political. Marriage has an existence independent of state power; same-sex marriage does not. The reality of children, and the duty of care imposed upon mothers and fathers to rear their offspring, would exist absent a political order.”

            Of course, this is silly; at least in the broad sense of political, as “social relations involving authority or power.” In the absence of a political order, there
            would be an absence of modern humans.

            For starters

            While marriage is certainly, I think, pretty much
            universally about creating “socially-recognized reproductive units” (see above Walker et al link), it is also more than that, as you could predict for us humans.

            I agree with Walker et al that “…marriage is a fundamental cornerstone of human economic, social, and kinship networks.” Marriage equality is, at least to me, about legally recognizing that GLBT pair-bond “units” are fully human and “natural,” and that LGBT pair-bond units can and do participate in human economic, social, and kinship networks. Furthermore, that our economic, social, and kinship networks could be strengthened if de facto and de jure discrimination, inequalities and segregation of capable, productive,
            consensual pair-bonded adults are ended.

            While a same-sex couple isn’t a “reproductive unit,” each person can reproduce, and the couple can raise their collaboratively created offspring together. A same-sex marriage is an economic, social and kinship unit, and, being made up of capable adults, is quite capable of being a child raising unit, surrogate created and/or adopted children.

            Surrogacy, as a reproductive strategy, apparently goes way back. The story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, however, does illustrate that there can be complications with that sort of thing. However, as no barren wife is involved, at least in a male same-sex couple…

            While “Gay/ GLBT” is a recent, rather radically egalitarian, social construct/community/self-identity… it largely came into being within my own lifetime, after all… intensely loving, same-sex pair bonding, such as with Jonathon and David in the Bible (whether those two were intimate or not), is probably ancient behavior. Judging from hunter gatherer societies which have
            been studied, same-sex sexual activities likely go way, way back…if only to have something to do while you wait for your parents to buy you a wife.

            I would think that for men anyway, acquiring a same-sex
            partner(s) could be a more affordable option than coming up with a brideprice, especially if your parents/kin, or you, were strapped for ax heads, shiny
            beads, sabre toothed tiger pelts or something. Of course, if he was a high maintenance, exotic trade goods sort of guy, than the typical female “reproductive unit” might have been cheaper after all.

            Part 6: My impression of the essay: “Soft Despotism and Same Sex Marriage” by Seana Sugrue.

            From a Witherspoon Institute book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals” by Robert P. George & Jean Bethke Elshtain, editors. 2006.

            In part 5, I said that what Sugrue wrote is “silly; at least in the broad sense of political, as ‘social relations
            involving authority or power’…”

            She wrote: “Same-sex marriage is necessarily a political institution, whereas marriage is pre-political.
            Marriage has an existence independent of state power; same-sex marriage does not. The reality of children, and the duty of care imposed upon mothers and
            fathers to rear their offspring, would exist absent a political order.”

            She gets this idea from one of the most famous and influential intellectuals ever. I, on the other hand, am an
            eccentric artist of no repute, who was indifferently educated in public schools and at an ordinary state university that most people have never heard about.

            I sure put myself in my place, didn’t I?

            Nevertheless, it’s still silly. How can I so dismissively say that about a concept that she got from such a highly
            esteemed intellectual, someone who is way out of my rather “lumpin intellectual” class? Simple, John Locke lived in the 17th Century. I live in the 21st Century.

            What seemed to be a reasonable assumption in the 17th Century, that all of mankind is descended from a “pre-political” couple, from just a man and a woman who discovered sex, just isn’t a reasonable assumption in my century. We aren’t descended from Locke’s primal, pre-political couple; we are descended from a group of people who became modern humans together, as a group. There very probably wasn’t a “pre-political” era. We humans do political, and very likely did “political” even before we emerged from the group of ancestors of our species.

            In any case, even if you believed that, the story of Adam and Eve definitely had something political going on there. Not to mention that they weren’t alone, even if they were the only two humans on Earth. There was the snake, for instance, who was questioning the
            social relations involving authority or power.’ Beyond the Snake and the primal humans, there was also another self-aware entity that was definitely a political
            factor in the ‘social relations involving authority or power’.

            Building on Locke, Sugrue says that same-sex marriage is outside of conjugal society, a purely political creation which can’t exist without the state, and therefore it takes “soft despotism” for the state to enforce same-sex marriage.

            Her definition of conjugal society comes from Locke:

            “Conjugal society is made by a voluntary compact between man and woman, and though it consist chiefly in such a communion and right in one another’s bodies as is necessary to its chief end, procreation, yet it draws with it mutual support and assistance, and a
            communion of interests too, as necessary not only to unite their care and affection, but also necessary to their common offspring, who have a right to be
            nourished and maintained by them till they are able to provide for themselves.”

            I say, same-sex marriage is willed to be a marriage by the couple, who, with friends and allies, now pressure the state to formally, legally recognize what already exists…same-sex marriage which, at the end of the day, is “just” marriage. My late sister taught me that.

            Gay people can, of course, “procreate” with techniques old and new. Gay couples won’t procreate with each
            other, but they certainly can procreate with others. This is not unusual with infertile couples, today and even in antiquity. There is nothing wrong with Gay genitalia, at least no more than the population at large.

            Gay married couples are a “voluntary compact” with “communion and right in one another’s bodies.” “It draws with it mutual support and assistance, and a communion of interests too, as necessary not only to unite their care and affection, but also necessary to their common offspring, who have a right to be nourished and maintained by them till they are able to provide for themselves.”

            Even childless people, in such an intensely social species as ours, contribute to maintaining, nourishing, and educating our species’ young… each other and humanity’s infirmed and elderly as well,

            America’s enslaved people created their marriages that way; they willed their marriages into existence… marriages which were also not legally recognized by the state. Their communities created their own political authority and power to recognize their own social
            relations, including marriages. That is what we humans can do… even in the most oppressive of environments.

            The marriages of enslaved people were not “legitimate.” They were only informally recognized by the slave holders, who could dissolve the marriages of enslaved people by splitting the couple at the auction block, and by other “legal” means. But, a marriage of the heart can never be truly dissolved, I think. The marriages of the enslaved community could not be dissolved as long as hearts lived.

          • DanielPeterson

            GP: “My impression of the essay”

            I sometimes do an impression of Winston Churchill.

            It isn’t very good, either.

          • kiwi57

            That’s because Churchill didn’t have a moustache. He did, however, smoke a cigar. But I’d advise you against trying to use a cigar as a Churchill prop; an American with a moustache and a cigar doing impressions always comes out sounding like Groucho Marx.

          • DanielPeterson

            GP, you seem to have a very difficult time with reading comprehension. Please stop embarrassing yourself here.

  • mike

    I find it interesting that same sex marriage activists, in addition to attempting to get Regnerus fired, have filed a legal action to obtain the personal emails of the editor of Social Science Research, the journal that published Regnerus’s study, in order to intimidate, embarrass, and enjoy a harassing fishing expedition. Activists have also threatened a similar action to obtain emails from Regnerus. Whether or not any type of smoking gun is found, the activists have accomplished their goal in making any journal editor or researcher think twice before publishing a study contrary to liberal views of SSM and parenting.

    As a point of curiosity, I can only imagine the emails that exist on the laptops of the liberal professors,researchers, and activists who moonlight as Regnerus’s personal intimidators.

  • Ray Agostini

    I’m interested in objective (at least as “objective” as humans can be) studies of the phenomenon. Some notes I took from the articles Dan linked:

    “And now here comes Mark Regnerus. As a researcher, he says, “I’ve
    dabbled around.” He’s written well-received articles and books on
    religion, sex, and marriage. He has no particular expertise in the study
    of gay and lesbian relations, but the conventional view about the
    children of same-sex parents struck him as odd on its face”. (Revenge of the Sociologists.)

    “The foundation, Regnerus says, had nothing to do with the study’s
    design or implementation, or with his interpretation of the findings.

    “I told them at the beginning that I would just report the results,
    whatever they were,” he says. “I really didn’t know what we would find,
    and I’m surprised by what we did find.” (Ibid.)

    But Regnerus did come to the study with some preconceived ideas:

    “…but the conventional view about the children of same-sex parents struck
    him as odd on its face. For starters, it’s widely known that children of
    divorce are more likely to show negative results on a number of
    “outcomes” in later life, such as depression, drug use, alcoholism, and
    so on.”

    Nevertheless, impeding research on ideological grounds is never a good idea, which is what some of his “colleagues” tried to do.

    “A large number of his fellow social scientists—members in good standing
    of the guild of LGBT researchers—would like to destroy his career.” (Revenge of the Sociologists)

    Time magazine:

    “Time magazine published a brief and sober description of
    Regnerus’s methodology. His paper’s great strength was the large and
    nationally representative sample, so that groups drawn from it could be
    compared against one another with statistical confidence. The great
    weakness was that the group of stable gay couples was minuscule, making a
    meaningful comparison between stable heterosexual households and stable
    gay households impossible.”

    The fallout from divorce:

    “To the extent that the dispute over Regnerus’s study is scientifically
    serious and not brute cultural warfare, it largely turns on whether this
    way of boosting the sample is legitimate. Many reputable social
    scientists, including the three commenters recruited by the editor of Social Science Research, say it is. His critics say Regnerus was stacking the deck. Social science is unanimous that children raised in unstable families—divorced
    parents, for example, or stepfamilies—have worse outcomes later in life
    than children from stable families. By counting these people as LMs or
    GFs (assuming their parents had a same-sex relationship), Regnerus
    ensured that those categories would show less favorable outcomes. With
    so many children of gays also being children of divorced or single
    parents it could hardly have turned out otherwise.”

    Regnerus as retrospective study:

    “This is not only breathless but inaccurate. We may concede that
    Regnerus’s study could rightly be called “historic”—the data set he
    collected is unique and likely to yield interesting findings for years
    to come. But it is not a study of “children raised by homosexual
    parents.” Regnerus did not ask respondents to give their parents’ sexual
    orientation; merely whether they knew if their parents had at some
    point engaged in a homosexual relationship, for however long. The
    parents may or may not have considered themselves gay, then or now. And
    many of these children were not raised by a homosexual parent: There
    were GFs who never lived with their father at all. As a close reading of
    its title suggests, this is a study of adult children of parents who
    had same-sex relationships. And the Family Research Council’s use of the
    present tense is jumping the gun. The study is retrospective—a picture
    of the nation during the last 40 years, much of it before the gay rights
    movement and the widespread social acceptance of homosexuality. For all
    we know, and as Regnerus readily admits, the instability, and hence the
    bad outcomes, could be largely traced to trauma caused by the
    antihomosexual prejudice of an earlier time.” (Revenge of the Sociologists)

    Regnerus’ concession of the weakness of his research:

    “The criticisms of Regnerus’s paper would be more impressive if they
    weren’t anticipated and in many cases acknowledged by the author in the
    same paper being criticized. Regnerus notes explicitly that the study
    did not identify the sexual orientation of the parents being reported
    on, and that some of the “gay parents” had little or no contact with
    their children. He admits that the categories into which he divided
    respondents were hardly exhaustive: “There are far more ways to
    delineate family structure and experiences—and changes therein—than I
    have undertaken here.”

    “Most of these shortcomings were acknowledged by the researchers
    themselves in their respective papers, just as Regnerus points out the
    limitations of his own methods. APA acknowledged the shortcomings
    too—and then issued its decree anyway, in the most confident terms. But
    the accumulation of methodological errors calls into question whether
    any plausible conclusion can be drawn from gay parenting research.

    Marks sums it up: “In response .  .  . to any question regarding the
    long-term, adult outcomes of lesbian and gay parenting we have almost no
    empirical basis for responding.”

    And now, with the publication of Regnerus’s study .  .  . we still don’t.” (Ibid.)

    In “Mark Regnerus: Defending my research on same-sex parenting”, Regnerus stated:

    “No, I didn’t compare respondents to an overall category of average
    young adults. The comparisons in this study are made solely between the
    sampled groups here, which nevertheless comprised most respondents. But
    the advantage in a study like this one is that its sample is a
    population-based one, meaning its findings are representative of the
    population at large. …

    One could wish that randomly screening
    over 15,000 young adults would turn up more reports of households headed
    by same-sex parents in stable relationships, but this study did not.
    Whether studies of today’s parents of smaller children would reveal more
    stability is anyone’s guess. It’s an empirical question.”

    But we go back to the question: Was this an accurate study of “households headed by same-sex parents in stable relationships”?

    The answer is no. I’m not defending same-sex adoption, or same-sex couples using IVF or other methods to raise children, but I’m not against it, either (more research needed). The “trail of destruction” we see in many youth today, with gangs, gang warfare, and the awful breakdown of law and order in society, cannot be traced back to same-sex couples raising children, since it’s a relatively new phenomenon with “hangovers” from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s divorce trends which split families apart, and led to the sort of behaviour Regnerus “suspected” “might also occur in children of same-sex unions”.

    Tradition dies hard. To be sure, same-sex families will never dominate, because it’s males and females who produce offspring. That’s the way “nature” designed it. If they aren’t capable of raising children in a peaceful and non-threatening environment, then maybe they should consider handing their children over to be raised by others who can.

    • kiwi57


      I’m wondering if the answer isn’t staring us in the face. If surveying 15,000 people only turns up a statistically insignificant number of “households headed by same-sex parents in stable relationships,” doesn’t that at least hint that stable same-sex relationships are rather rare?

  • jafnhar

    Don’t mistake this for getting on your case about this, but I’m a veteran of the recent public worker-Scott Walker wars in Wisconsin, so I’m not especially sympathetic to right-wing complaints about investigations.. The kind of investigation requested by the left-wing blogger is precisely what happened to at least one fellow at UW Madison as requested by some right wing group. I don’t like it, but this is the kind of thing that can happen when academics publish controversial material.

    But the investigation isn’t his real problem anyway. So long as your colleagues and dean are sympathetic, you’re probably going to be ok, unless someone who can threaten this or that funding is after you. No, Regnerus’ real problem is that his colleagues are after him. I’m just going to guess that there’s a history of nasty department politics here and this publication is a convenient excuse to give him another black eye, or maybe even finally put that knife in his back. The personal grudges and factionalism of department politics can be a thing to behold, and at the department level it doesn’t usually have much to do with the national right-left divide. It’s usually even pettier than that.

    Oh, I guess I’ll add that in the larger discussion of gay parenting, that you forget or ignore that a lot of the children in same-sex parenting situations are indeed the biological children of one of the partners. The lessening pressure to be “normal” and get married to an opposite-sex partner is one of the definite benefits of a society in which it is increasingly ok to be gay. Totally apart from the question of same-sex parenting, nobody wins when a closeted gay man marries a woman, has children, and then finds he can’t take it anymore. Just let him marry a man. It’s much easier on everyone.

    • DanielPeterson

      There are those who disagree, and who offer serious reasons for their disagreement.

      I don’t believe that their arguments should be altogether ignored, and I don’t believe that they should be persecuted or demonized.

  • Phil

    I’ll repeat my comments from an earlier thread. Would it be fair to paint Mormons as worse parents than Catholics because you had to expand the definition of “Mormons” because of their relatively fewer numbers?

    Mark Regnerus has not aptly addressed the major flaw in his research. Let me give an example of this flaw by using Catholics and Mormons as an example.

    Say I wanted to compare parenting outcomes between Catholics and Mormons. To do this, I randomly sample 3,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 39. (This is the strength of the Regnerus research–a random sample. Previous research on the question of gay parenting has largely come from convenience samples which could be biased.) From that random sample, I find 600 subjects who were raised in a Catholic family that was intact from the age of birth to 18. So far so good–600 is a very robust number. But, I can only identify 30 subjects who were raised in a Mormon family that was intact from the age of birth to 18. Not such a good number. I understand that 30 is not a sufficient number to make statistically reliable comparisons so I expand the definition of the Mormon sample to include those who had ever set foot in a Mormon chapel and lived in an intact family from birth to 18. That expands my sample to 50 a better number, but not good enough. I then further expand the definition of the Mormon sample to include those who ever set foot in a Mormon chapel but did not necessarily live in an intact family from birth to 18 (this now includes parents who were divorced and children who were adopted or were from foster care). Now my number is 100. This is a more statistically robust number so I go ahead and analyze the data and use the data to compare children raised in Catholic households with children raised in Mormon households. I find that children raised in Mormon households had many more negative outcomes than children raised in Catholic households.

    But, what I’ve really done is compare apples to oranges as I compared children raised in intact Catholic households from birth to 18, with children raised in sometimes intact households with parents who ever set foot in a Mormon chapel.

    That is the problem with the Regnerus study. He compared children raised in intact heterosexual households with children raised in not necessarily intact households in which one or both parents had had a same-sex relationship (even if that relationship was short-lived).

    To make a valid comparison, you would need children raised in an intact heterosexual household from birth – 18 vs. children raised in an intact homosexual household from birth – 18 (or some equivalence).

    Because of this fatal flaw, the Regnerus study cannot be taken seriously.

    • DanielPeterson


      All social science studies are limited. Most are flawed.

      Thanks, though, for your attempt to remain substantive.

      Do you have anything to say about the firestorm of intimidation and vilification to which Professor Regnerus has been subjected?

      Do you have any thoughts to share about the limitations and flaws of the other articles mentioned in Andrew Ferguson’s essay (to which I linked)?

      • Phil

        Simply, research on this question cannot be conducted with methodological rigor. The strength of the Regnerus study (random sampling) is a weakness in other studies, but the weakness of the Regnerus study (actually looking at gay couples) is a strength of other studies.

        If this had remained an academic issue, there could be a good and useful debate about the actual merits and limitations of both types of studies. But the results quickly became political, which squelched any civil and useful debate.

        IMHO, Regnerus research should be roundly criticized for the limitations of his methodology (Gary Gates of UCLA said in the Ferguson essay, Regnerus’ research was doomed from the start). But he should not be subject to intimidation or demonization. And I’m glad that some (many?) academics have come out in support of him.

      • Phil

        Apropos to our discussion, a long-time “gun journalist” has been ostracized and received death threats after suggesting that there should be a discussion about gun regulations.

  • Søren Kongstad

    Well it’s clear that the Regnerus study is silent on whether growing up in stable same sex households is less favorable than opposite sex households, furthermore it cannot say anything about how stable homosexual couples are, since it did not relate in any way to the orientation of the parents.
    It is therefore irrelevant to the discussion of same sex marriage, regardless of whether the study is good, bad or just so so.

    In fact, it is not relevant whether and sex households leads to less favorable outcomes for children, since same sex households exist without marriage equality, and allowing people of the same sex to marry will increase the stability of the relationship, and stable relationships are better for the children. Thus to continue to discriminate against gay couples is what will harm children.

  • Seana Sugrue

    I would like to respond to Gregory Peterson’s defamatory and inaccurate interpretation of a chapter I contributed in a book called The Meaning of Marriage. The argument in that chapter is that marriage has traditionally been understood to be a pre political institution. As the state claims the right to redefine its norms, marriage loses that pre political status and becomes a statist creation. Gays were NOT referred to as being parasites. But the IDEA or institution of same sex marriage is dependent upon (parasitic to) a redefinition of marriage that began with heterosexuals. My reliance upon Tocqueville is appropriate since he argued that an excess of equality risks the emergence of a regime of soft despotism.

    • DanielPeterson

      Thank you, Professor Sugrue, for commenting here.