Richwine: Regnerus Victim of ‘Witch Hunt’

Richwine: Regnerus Victim of ‘Witch Hunt’ July 11, 2014

Jason Richwine, whose terrible research on immigration has prompted a great deal of entirely warranted criticism, wonders whether sociologists will study whether gay marriages are more likely to end in divorce than straight marriages. And he begins with this absurd claim:

Over at the Power Line blog, my former AEI colleague Steve Hayward notes that the first same-sex divorce in the state of Indiana occurred a couple of weeks ago. Will gay couples end up divorcing at higher rates than straight couples? Steve justifiably wonders whether American social scientists will be willing to study the durability of same-sex relationships, given the witch-hunting of Mark Regnerus and others who have published data that paint such relationships in a negative light.

A witch hunt! How about a pogrom? Or a holocaust? Was he thrown into a gulag? Well, no. He was criticized. And those criticisms were absolutely accurate and have gone completely unrefuted. And when Regnerus has been questioned under oath about his study, he’s completely crumbled and his study has been found to be nothing short of laughable. Apparently Richwine thinks a scholar being rightly criticized by other scholars is a “witch hunt.” Now on to his equally inane other point:

The best study I’ve seen focused on Scandinavia, where same-sex civil unions — essentially marriages in everything but name — have been legal for about two decades. The authors had access to population-level administrative data that generated a sample size of over 1,500 same-sex unions. After controlling for age, region, country of birth, education, and duration of the partnership, male couples in Sweden were 35 percent more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and lesbian partners were over 200 percent more likely to divorce. Whether the couples had children made little difference in the relative rates…

There are hints of similar results in the American literature, usually found below the headlines of studies with small sample sizes. But, down the road, will researchers jump at the chance to publish large-scale comparisons here in the U.S.? And will they suggest their results have policy implications? Sadly, in this political climate, it might depend on which way the results come out.

Of course sociologists will study this. And if it does turn out that gay marriages are more likely to end in divorce than straight ones, I have no doubt that the Christian right will claim that the “policy implication” of that fact should be that they should not be allowed to get married in the first place. And that’s ridiculous. Poorp people are almost twice as likely as wealthy people to get divorced; should we then prohibit poor people from getting married? Black people are almost twice as likely to get divorced than Asian people; should we ban marriage between black people? Of course not. But they won’t apply their “logic” consistently here, they will just use the data inconsistently to support their bigotry.

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  • Chiroptera

    He’s also misusing the phrase ‘witch-hunt.” A witch-hunt is when those in power are so paranoid of hidden enemies they round up anyone of whom they’re suspicious, including many people who are completely innnocent of what they are being accused. And that has traditionally been a right-wing trait.

    The homophobes are being very, very open about their homophobia. No one is losing jobs based on suspected homophobia. Witch-hunt just doesn’t apply here.

  • dingojack

    A witch-hunt?!?

    Aww poor little Richwhine….


  • Larry

    If they do divorce at a higher rate, so what? Unless there are children involved, this is not a societal problem, same as if a childless man and woman divorced. It may make for an interesting graph but it really doesn’t matter except to the two individuals involved. It certainly doesn’t justify using governmental powers to prevent others from marrying.

    Richwine and Edwards both now the SSM train has left the station and they’re being left behind. They’re being ignored more and more. This is simply one pathetic last-ditch attempt to derail that train. It’s not going to work.

  • Abby Normal

    The best study I’ve seen focused on Scandinavia, where same-sex civil unions — essentially marriages in everything but name — have been legal for about two decades.

    Really, that’s the best study you could find Mr. Richwine? What was wrong with the studies done here in the US, this one from the Williams Institute, for example. Oh, the US studies all show somehat lower divorce rates same-sex couples. Yea, better go with the Scandinavian one.

  • Richwine sounds like a great name for a billionaireblog.

    Richwine, Regnerus and ReiKKKwingKKKrazzeepantsmo’fo’s; the three “R’s” of the modern GOP.

  • howardhershey

    Our neighbors recently had both their wedding in a Christian ceremony attended by their children (during the all too brief time between the finding against legalized bigotry in Indiana and the stay which reinstated that bigotry) and their 25th anniversary. I noticed that many of the licenses during that short time-frame went to couples in their 40s, 50s, and even older. But I agree that marriage is a major cause of divorce.

  • raven

    Richwine: Regnerus Victim of ‘Witch Hunt’

    Regnerus was a victim of reality and the truth.

    His sloppy study was simply wrong and misrepresented anyway and contradicted by later, real studies.

    He got off easy. In any science field, especially mine, he would have been investigated and fired for fraud.

  • raven

    Will gay couples end up divorcing at higher rates than straight couples?

    Fundie xianity results in divorce!!! That has been known for years.

    The fundies have a much higher rate of divorce than the general population. Oddly enough, atheists have the lowest rate.

    The divorce rate in the USA is 50%. It’s already high anyway.

  • raven

    Evangelicals Have Higher-than-average Divorce Rates …

    www .baylor. edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story…

    Feb 5, 2014 – 5, 2014) — Despite their strong pro-family values, evangelical Christians have higher than average divorce rates — in fact, being more likely to

    There you go. Baylor is a fundie affiliated university, having ties to the Baptists.

    If you see someone engaged to a fundie xian, call the police. If you can, get a mob together and stop it!!! They are at high risk of getting divorce. (This is of course sarcasm, an example of fundie xian reasoning applied to a real world factual situation.)

  • John Pieret

    A witch hunt! How about a pogrom? Or a holocaust? Was he thrown into a gulag? Well, no. He was criticized.

    But Christians (some of them, at least) are godly and good and righteous and letting the ungodly, evil and unrighteous criticize them is obviously persecution, since those people should be in jail or stoned to death instead of being allowed to roam free saying whatever they want!

  • Michael Heath

    I wouldn’t be surprised if gay marriages had a higher divorce rate for two reasons.

    The first would be the mistreatment of gay people by the culture in general and conservative Christians in particular. That results in these couples not enjoying the same societal support as heterosexuals.

    The second is that I presume gay married couples in general aren’t as committed to religious dogma that demands marriage be a life-long commitment; even when it’s clear the marriage is a failure.

    Of course I can also see reasons why gay married couples might have a lower divorce rate as well. My point is there are reasons to think the divorce rate should be different than heterosexual couples. Especially given the many years of abuse being heaped on gay people by people like conservative Christians; who still participate in the systemic abuse of gay children who are congregants in their churches.

  • Pumako

    Should a witch-hunt still be considered a perjorative if the party being “hunted” proceeds to turn you into a newt and then fly away on a broom?

  • Pen

    Social stresses of all kinds lead to marriage being more likely to end in divorce. I’m not surprised to hear that it’s the case with poverty, I know it’s the case with inter-cultural marriages and it may well turn out to be same with gay couples. Thing is, a lot of those stresses are needlessly inflicted on couples by society.

  • Nemo

    What does it mean to say “After controlling for … duration of the partnership”? Isn’t that meant to be the factor under study?