For release: Monday, September 3, 2012

A campaign of demonisation by gay activists against a study critical of gay parenting has been exposed by the clearance of its author of claims his methodology was flawed.

The University of Texas said sociologist  Dr Mark Regnerus had no case of “scientific misconduct” to answer.

Dr Regnerus had been the subject of a vitriolic campaign by activists since his New Family Structures study, published in the peer reviewed journal Social Science Research, found that there were disadvantages to children being raised by same-sex couples on 25 out of 40 measures. The study stated: “children appear most apt to succeed well as adults – on multiple counts and across a variety of domains – when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father”.[i]

Activists disputed the validity of his study and called for an inquiry, after which the review panel said no investigation was warranted.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Jim Wallace said the clearing of Dr Regnerus was a win for academic freedom.

“Rather than involving ’scientific misconduct’, this study is one of the best ever done on same-sex parenting, using a large, national probability sampled population, acknowledged even by critics as the ‘gold standard for all social sciences’,” Mr Wallace said.

“This meant it was able to avoid some of the flaws in previous studies, such as self-selection and small sample sizes.”

In the same edition of Social Science Research, Loren Marks published an analysis of previous studies, many of which have been used by organisations such as the American Psychological Association and the Australian Psychological Society to assert that studies do not find any difference between same-sex and opposite-sex parenting.

Mr Wallace said Marks and Regnerus had challenged the common assertion made by gay activists that children parented by same-sex couples did just as well as those raised by their intact biological parents.

Marks analysed 59 studies and found that every one had serious methodological flaws, and failed to use large, random, representative samples of children from same-sex households.

In light of the flaws in previous studies, Regnerus’ study is an important one in the debate about same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage.

Mr Wallace urged Federal MPs and Senators about to resume debate on the four bills in Parliament to redefine marriage to consider the research about same-sex parenting.

“Same-sex marriage implies a right to same-sex parenting but it is obvious from the research that this is a big social experiment that may not be in the best interests of children,” Mr Wallace said.

“The vitriolic attacks by same-sex activists and allegations of misconduct when Regnerus’ study did not agree with them have been proven to be without substance. The dismissal of the case against him is a victory for academic freedom.”

“Debate around this issue should likewise be conducted with respect for those who disagree with the political agenda of gay activists,” Mr Wallace said.


[i] Mark Regnerus (2012), ‘How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study’, Social Science Research, 41 (2012) 752-770, 766.