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Meet The “Social Scientists” Defending The Flawed New Same-Sex Parenting Study

June 26, 2012 12:39 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Last week, a group of “social scientists” responded to the avalanche of criticism directed at a recent study by associate professor Mark Regnerus about the alleged harms of same-sex parenting. In a June 20 response, published by the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion, a group of eighteen professors defended the deeply flawed and misleading study for “help[ing] to inform the ongoing scholarly and public conversation about same-sex families in America.” 

Anti-gay groups have predictably touted the professors’ response in an effort to restore the credibility of their beloved study, while activists have pointed out how much the response “miss[es] the point.”

But who exactly are these "social scientists?"

Four of the proponents of Regnerus’s study are fellows at the Witherspoon Institute, the conservative organization that played the biggest role in funding the study and which has ties to a number of anti-gay groups.

Six of the study’s supporters signed on to a Witherspoon Institute report in 2008 which decried same-sex marriage as a “stimulus to the abolition of marriage”:

[S]ame-sex marriage is both a consequence of and further stimulus to the abolition of marriage as the preferred vehicle for ordering sex, procreation, and child-rearing in the West. While there are surely many unknowns, what we do know suggests that embracing same-sex marriage would further weaken marriage itself at the very moment when it needs to be most strengthened.

Six of the study’s supporters specialize in areas that likely provide them with very little, if any, insight about how to conduct an effective sociological survey (e.g., an economist who focuses on international trade, a political scientist who participated in Glenn Beck’s unaccredited “university,” etc.).

And of the remaining twelve who do study sociology, the overwhelming majority focus on issues unrelated to child development and family structure – aging, crime, race and ethnic relations, etc. Most of these professors actually specialize in the sociology of religion.

Furthermore, six of the “social scientists” backing the study actually have histories of opposing marriage equality that date back to long before Regnerus’s research was published:

  • Douglas Allen. Douglas Allen, who teaches Economics at Simon Fraser University, is no stranger to the fight against same-sex marriage. He’s previously written that lesbian relationships are unstable, unhealthy, and more promiscuous than heterosexual relationships, and he’s argued that allowing gay couples to marry will somehow result in increased heterosexual divorces. He’s also argued that same-sex relationships are incompatible with the current institution of marriage, advocating for the creation of a separate institution called “homosexual marriage.” Next month, he’ll be speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) “It Takes A Family” conference, which trains students to oppose marriage equality.
  • Alan Hawkins. Alan Hawkins has also been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage. As a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, he’s argued that marriage equality would do “a great deal of damage” to the institution of marriage. He’s warned that changing the definition of marriage might create a “slippery slope” to sanctioning “homosexual unions” and has questioned the existing body of research on the effectiveness of same-sex parenting. He’s also suggested that legalizing same-sex marriage would cause single heterosexual women to marry each other in order to obtain economic benefits.
  • William Jeynes. William Jeynes is a professor of education at California State University, Long Beach. He’s written in defense of the “two-biological-parent family,” warning that non-traditional family structures pose a threat to America’s economic security – a claim that’s been touted by NOM. He’s also peddled the claim that marriage equality would result in schools teaching that opposition to same-sex marriage is “bigotry” and “discrimination.” 
  • Loren Marks. Loren Marks is the author of a companion article to Regnerus's study published in Social Science Research which attempted to challenge the credibility of prior research about the effectiveness of same-sex parenting. In 2010, Marks was dropped as a potential witness in the Proposition 8 trial after admitting that his conclusions about same-sex parenting weren’t supported by evidence.
  • Bradford Wilcox. Aside from being the director of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, Brad Wilcox has lectured about the harms of same-sex parenting, comparing children raised by gay couples to children raised in broken homes. In 2011, he spoke at NOM’s annual ITAF conference about the “gold standard” for raising children.
  • David Eggebeen. In 1996, David Eggebeen testified in support of Hawaii’s efforts to ban same-sex marriage, saying “To me, the conclusion is clear that marriage is the gateway to becoming a parent.” Eggebeen further testified that “same-sex marriages where children [are] involved is by definition a step parent relationship,” and suggested that the children of a same-sex couple would similarly be at a “heightened risk” for poverty and behavioral problems, according to the ruling. In 2010, Eggebeen told MercatorNet that his research suggests that fathers make “some unique contributions” that cannot be replicated by a lesbian couple.

Previously:

Experts Condemn Flawed Regnerus Study On Same-Sex Parenting

What Proponents Of The Regnerus Study Are Actually Saying About Gay People

Five Things News Outlets Should Know About The Newest Same-Sex Parenting Study