comments on regnerus

Finally got around to reading the Regnerus SSR article. A few comments:

1. Up front – my politics: I am against laws that distinguish between people based on sexual orientation. I also believe that people should be tolerant of many sexual orientations, not just heterosexuality.

2. My prior scientific belief: I believe that it may be possible that sexual orientation may be correlated with family outcomes in positive or negative ways, just as there might be differences between other groups (e.g., Latinos may be better or worse parents according to some measure).

3. My prior legal belief: The presence of group differences doesn’t entail policy change unless the differences are extreme. For example, we might discover that alcoholics are worse parents, but I would be against a law that banned alcoholics from having children. In other words, I can believe that some group (e.g., gays) may be better or worse parents than other groups, but that doesn’t mean we should discriminate.

4. What I’ve been told: I am not a family sociologist, but multiple people have told me that prior research tends to find little or no difference between children of straight parents and gay parents. They could be wrong and I’d be willing to update my belief if a sufficiently strong study came out.

5. The actual Regnerus study contains a modest, but interesting result. According to multiple measures, people seem to be worse off if they had a parent who had same gender sexual relations. This isn’t surprising given that most reported two person families were mixed gender. That suggests that same sex contacts were outside the family. In other words, the study measured the “Larry Craigs” of the world. I am not shocked that their children may be worse off in some way.

6. The issue, to me, seems to be the claim that the data provide evidence against same sex marriage. First, even the author admits, there are very few people who reported two parents of the same gender (17, to be exact). Second, there is a severe selection effect. Most of the survey respondents grew up when same sex marriage was illegal, thus preventing what might the equilibrium state in an environment where same gender marriage is legal. To be blunt, the gay people who set up families a decade or more ago are not the same people who might set up families in the current environment.

7. There was petition asking the Social Science Research editor to explain how this paper went through the review process. As an author whose papers have gotten stuck for *years* at a time, I was shocked to learn that it went through in a matter of weeks.

8. Critics claim that the outcry was a “witch hunt” (see the Scatter discussion). That’s a vague and charged term, so I will ignore it. But a few things are safe to say. Science is built on skepticism. If a paper comes out claiming that all previous work in the topic was flawed and produces a controversial result, it would be normal for people to ask questions. The proper response is to provide an explanation of how the research was conducted, not accuse people of a “witch hunt.” No one is asking that anyone be fired or banned from doing sociology. The petitioners are merely asking, “why was this published?”

9. There is some truth to the charge that the outcry is political. Consider a thought experiment, what if a researcher produced a flawed article that supported a liberal policy? Has there been an equivalent level of outcry against bad research that supports liberal points of view? This doesn’t mean that the Regnerus critics should stop. They were right to ask questions. Rather, it means that we should bring the same skepticism to all research, regardless of policy implications. Liberals and conservatives should be equally fearful of sociology’s methodology police.

10. Darren “BMXSherkat was asked the the SSR editor to do an audit of the paper and its review process. Personally, I think this is excessive. The editor, James Wright, is an accomplished scholar and likely knew that the paper would be controversial, even used as ammunition in a political dispute. We give editors great leeway. They may agree with reviewers or override them. He chose to publish this paper after getting some feedback, which is normal. Darren found that the reviewers had some connection with the author. This isn’t always bad. I’m sure that the reviewers of some of my rejected papers know me personally, and that I’ve rejected the papers of people who I like and admire. The bottom line is that the James Wright is an adult and sociology is a contact sport.

11. Bottom line: I think this a modest paper that presents an intuitive result. If one of your parents is gay but is with a different gender partner, then kids may be worse off.  A family where there a sever mismatch in orientation between parents is likely to be stressful, to say the least. At best, the paper would have to be severely rewritten to match the text and the results. At worse, as Darren notes, the paper should just be rejected along with other papers where the claims don’t match the data. The extremely fast publication process suggests that these options were not seriously considered.

Adverts: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

July 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, research, sociology

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. There is a blatant contradiction between this post and the one before. You rightfully praised Philosophy and Public Affairs for fast decisions (65 percent in 30 days and 95 percent in 60 days). But now you support a letter demanding in an inquisitorial and unprecedented fashion that a journal render a public account about its decision to accept a paper five weeks after it was submitted.



    July 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

  2. @anon: I don’t think there is much of a contradiction with Fabio’s post on expediency in journal reviews. Sociology journals typically take around 3 months for reviews and most longer (for example, I have a paper that has been waiting with the editor to be sent to reviewers since late May given their long backlog and length of time to review). His point that the review was conducted so quickly compared to that 3 month average is well taken, particularly with the findings and methodology considered. Now if the norm was 5-8 weeks, then it would be more of a contradiction.



    July 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

  3. @anon: Hillybilly is correct. The issue is that relative to other SSR submissions, it looked like it was on the fast track. If *all* papers had a 1 month review to acceptance process, as is the case in some disciplines, I’d cheer.



    July 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  4. Note that we are talking about different things here. First, there is the turnaround time on an original submission. Ideally, that would take around two to three months, but often takes longer at most journals. At that point, the article is usually rejected or given an revise and resubmit invitation. In the latter case, the author would typically take several months to revise the paper and then another couple of months would be required to send the revised manuscript through a second review process. Even when the journal is acting very quickly, the time from initial submission to acceptance typically takes about a year. It is very rare that an article will be accepted outright after the first submission. And very unusual to have a paper go from initial submission to acceptance in a matter of a few weeks.


    Rory McVeigh

    July 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  5. Let me see if I get this right: i) if a paper is submitted and accepted in a time that over 65 percent of submissions to Philosophy and Public Affairs (a top journal that Fabio thinks sociology journals should all emulate) would either be accepted or rejected, and ii) if I don’t like the findings, method etc. of this paper, then an investigation and public account of the submission, review, and publication process is in order. And this is not a witch hunt….



    July 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  6. anon: If you read the last post on Regnerus, I said that I didn’t think the audit was necessary. In other words, I welcome the criticism of the paper, but some of the demands of accountability were not necessary. Also, you should drop the phrase witch hunt. It’s vague and inflammatory. Instead, if you think the Regnerus piece is good, you should defend the methods and findings. Saying that other people are engaged in a witch hunt is an ad hominem attack. You should say how they misunderstood or undervalue the paper.



    July 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

  7. A journal, if run efficiently, should be able to turn most papers around (making an initial decision) within three months. However, If it became a norm that the entire process from submission to acceptance takes that long (e.g., skipping the revise and resubmit stage), the quality of published research in sociology would suffer greatly. In my experience, papers improve quite a bit during the revision stage (including my own submissons).


    Rory McVeigh

    July 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm

  8. @Rory: Yes, revisions do improve articles. And multiple revisions might even improve them multiple times. But I think this should be considered a by-product of the peer review system, which has the primary goal of checking the robustness/validity of the results and matching claims to evidence (all of which failed in the Regnerus case).

    The view that the R&R will improve the paper leads to many submitting unfinished/not up to par work (like Regnerus submitting before all the data was in), which clogs the reviewing system, and lengthens publication times. Lengthier times to decision and publication then lead scholars to submit early… a vicious cycle ensues.

    Moby has done a good job of having a quick turnaround, but most of what I’ve reviewed for it (and most other journals) was certainly not worth of submission.



    July 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

  9. Interesting take on it. Seems irrational to do that, though, since that approach usually leads to rejection rather than an R & R invitation.


    Rory McVeigh

    July 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm

  10. On the R&R cycle, we’ve gotten ourselves to a place where authors KNOW there is no way they will get a full accept, so people send articles to journals in an unfinished state, figuring they may as well make the last round of revisions in consultation with reviewers. Authors view journal submission as a way to get high-quality comments. This is, in my opinion, a bad state of affairs that contributes greatly to the reviewer overload we’ve been talking about here and on scatterplot.

    FYI I’m the only person I know (but feel free to add others) who has had two articles accepted on the first round at ASR/AJS (one of each). That was some time ago.



    July 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

  11. Fabio: You said that the audit was excessive, but you also defended the petition. You said, “No one is asking that anyone be fired or banned from doing sociology. The petitioners are merely asking, “why was this published?” But the petitioners are not merely asking that. This is what the petition demanded: “We urge you to publicly disclose the reasons for both the expedited peer review process of this clearly controversial paper and the choice of commentators invited to submit critiques.” The second demand, while being to me absurd, is maybe defensible; the first one – secondguessing maliciousness only because the paper was reviewed in a time that is normal in journals that you want sociological journals to emulate and because one does not like the methodology/findings of the paper – yes, this is an ad hominem attack, yes, this is a witch hunt. And this demand has automatically led to the audit. There was obviously an audit because of this petition. There is also an inquiry regarding whether Regnerus should be investigated for scientific misconduct. This inquiry was not launched because of sociologists, but it would be naive to think that the petition and audit will not have adverse affects on the inquiry and later a potential investigation.

    I don’t have to defend or criticize the content of the paper. That is irrelevant to my point. This paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal. You don’t like it, you criticize it, you write your own paper. You don’t call for an investigation and public account of the submission, review, and publication process. I see in AJS, ASR, everywhere papers that I think are mediocre, wrong, or “intuitive.” It never crosses my mind to publicly attribute evil intentions to those responsible for publishing the paper I don’t like and demand that the journal in question to publicly reveal how and why these articles were published. (Are you so sure that all your papers are counter-intuitive, Fabio? What would you think if anyone who thinks that a paper you wrote is not so great attack the journal who published it and demand what was demanded of Regnerus’s journal?)



    July 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

  12. @anon: There are a few issues in your reply. First, it is not the speed of review that is suspicious. It is the speed compared to other papers. In my time as an AJS student editor/staff, we reviewed 600+ articles (two years) and I can only remember a single accept “as is” on the first round. If you’ve published in sociology, or in most social science disciplines, you would know that the review process for the Regnerus paper was lightning fast. The speed of review for a such a controversial paper suggests that it was not given the same treatment as the normal SSR submission. If every paper were processed by SSR and other soc journals in 6-8 weeks, then there would be no reason to be suspicious.

    In other words, a paper that gets accepted after 45 days at Philosophy and Public Affairs is normal. At SSR, it’s almost unheard of. I hope that you can see this difference.

    Second, my view is that the critics are in their right to ask for an explanation. But I also think that the editor would be justified in ignoring the critics. He could say that he had the paper reviewed by scholars he trusts. End of story. All that we ask of journal editors is procedural fairness and a good faith effort made toward selecting good papers based on feedback. If you don’t like the audit, blame the editor who approved the audit, not the critics. There have been previously controversial papers (like the Udry 2000 piece) where people demanded audits that never happened.

    Third, just because I think people may be justified in calling for some explanation doesn’t mean that I think it is wise or effective. In other words, if you publish a paper that (a) touches on a hot button topic, (b) claims all prior research is wrong, (c) provides ammunition for one side in a very hot argument, and (d) the paper seems to get special treatment, then you had better expect a lot of people to be upset and they wouldn’t be remiss in asking the editor for more details. But the best response for critics is simply to argue against the paper. These sorts of demands for audits are rarely productive since we give editors much leeway. There is no “academic law” that trumps editorial discretion.

    Finally, my own research has been attacked in many ways in public and private (e.g., there was a 2008 NCBS panel on my book where I got trashed). While teaching at another institution, students asked the dean to have me removed. While I never have had a controversy like the Regnerus paper, I’ve had my fair share of fights. Thankfully, the editors of my work have never been dragged into these fights. Do I enjoy these conflicts? No, but I’m a grown up. If I care about ideas, I’ll publish them and live with the consequences.



    July 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm

  13. Anon: You are leaving out the step where the article’s publication was accompanied by a press release and made national news. That’s the step that led people upset by the findings and the attendant publicity to do an investigation into methods and then into how the article got published and publicized so fast. If you want to be a “public sociologist” and get national news coverage for an article on an issue that is a hot topic in the public sphere and claims to improve on all the prior research that had contrary findings, you ought to expect to get much closer scrutiny in the public sphere. If the scrutiny reveals evidence of an article rushed out for review before data collection was even finished and into print with lightning speed in time to coincide with a national political campaign, you might reasonably expect criticism. You can’t play politics on a topic that involves attacking other people and then whine when people look closely and critically at what you’ve done.



    July 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

  14. To the original point 9, if all research on gay/lesbian parenting were subjected to the skepticism leveled at the Regnerus study, there would be literally zero studies that could escape the methodology police. In defending the literature as it was before Regnerus’ incursion, C. J. Pascoe makes statements such as: “many of us have had to rely on convenience samples and snowballing just to get a sample size of same-sex families high enough to test statistical significance.” When the existing literature is making statistical inference from convenience samples, it is no great loss to have the lot superseded by one properly conducted study (a threshold I think the Regnerus study misses, for the reasons noted above).



    July 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm

  15. I have read the audit, and a draft of Wright’s response. I think they are very revealing and interesting. For people interested in the broken peer review system there is a lot of food for thought. I’m glad Wright had it done.

    Hey olderwoman, Matt and I had a paper accepted on the first round at ASR.


    Philip N. Cohen

    July 30, 2012 at 4:09 am

  16. I would suggest everyone take the time and read the Survey Instrument, the Survey Design, the Survey Codebook to get a full grasp of how this research was conducted.

    You take the whole population and ask, “Did your mother or father ever have an extra marital or extra relationship affair while you were growing up until age 18?
    If Yes, was it same sex or opposite sex?

    Seems the right way to frame the question, right? But that is NOT the way Regnerus did it. He only asked people who did NOT live with their parents for 18 years. In other words the only people who were asked about an extra marital or extra relationship affair were people who had lived in unstable families. Furthermore he never bothers to ask ANYONE if their parents had an opposite sex extra marital or extra relationship affair.

    I know you people here are smart so you can see how this changes the entire results of the Survey.

    Regnerus, [begin quote] We had only two cases in which mom and her partner were together for 18 years. We’ve got only six cases where mom and her partner were reported to have stayed together for 10 or more years, and 18 cases for five years. We’re still seriously in small-sample-size territory, prone to making what’s called a Type II error, meaning we could erroneously conclude that there are no differences when there really are. How about those 81 cases wherein respondents reported living with mom and her partner for at least a good share of a year or more?[end quote]

    2 -18 Years
    6 – 10 Years
    18 – 5 Years
    26 Long Time

    81 cases of living with mom and her partner a good share of a year or more. (short time)

    26 (long time)+81 (short time)= 107

    175 respondents
    175 – 107(Long and short time) = 68 (39%) who NEVER LIVED WITH THEIR MOTHER + THEIR MOTHERS GIRL FRIEND

    AND for my money I BET that the 81 he talks about above I BET included in that 81 is the 26 Long Time numbers. I think he was being sneaky by the way he wrote that.

    What Regnerus did is count the parent as Lesbian or Gay (I guess Bi-sexual people do not exist in the world of Regnerus), he counted the parents as Gay or Lesbian IF the respondent answered “yes” to “While you were growing up until age 18 did either your mother or your father have a same sex romance?” That is where he got his 175 Lesbian Mothers.

    This would be like studying Catholic Parenting and counting as Catholic anyone who had ever visited a Catholic Church at least once in their life.



    July 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm

  17. Thanks for bringing this up. This is important for people to know.



    July 31, 2012 at 4:00 am

  18. Let’s first look, purely at what makes the Regnerus study invalid. His comparison between his test group and control group is not valid, ergo, the entire study is not valid. And, the comparison is not invalid in some benign, “good faith mistake” sense; the comparison was calculated to make the (improperly labelled) “gay fathers” and “lesbian mothers” look bad. I’ll provide one brief example of how that is so. Look at Regnerus’s survey questions:

    Click to access NFSS-Survey-Instrument.pdf

    He first establishes whether respondents are in the desired 18 – 39 age range. He then asks whether a respondent lived with their biological mother and biological father until the age of 18 (or until leaving home to live independently). Those who answered “Yes” to that question formed Regnerus’s “control” group, the ones he was going to compare, on child outcomes, against the children of his “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers,” no matter the complicating “third factor” circumstances for the “gay” parents’ children. As an imaginable “third factor,” take the example of the death of a parent for a 15 year old. Regnerus’s “control group” is comprised of people “screened” not to have lost a parent, right? He asked if respondents had lived with both their biological mother and father through to 18, and those respondents who answered “Yes” constitute his control group. By contrast, any of his respondents in his test group of “gay” parents could have lost one parent (whether hetero or homosexual) at 12, 14, 15 et cetera. Obviously, very serious, negative economic and emotional consequences can flow from a child’s premature loss of a parent. Regnerus “fixed” his control group such that none of its members would be inflected by that “third factor” of the premature loss of a parent. And, I can cite many additional ways in which Regnerus set his “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” up for failure.
    On top of the invalid comparison, Regnerus’s entire data set is deeply dubious. Look at his Code Book:
    Look where he asks “Have you ever masturbated?” (What does that have to do with gay parenting child outcomes? Nothing; Regnerus simultaneous is working on a masturbation paper). Respondents had a choice not to answer; 110 declined to answer “Have you ever masturbated?” 620 (SIX-HUNDRED AND TWENTY) respondents said that they have never in their lives masturbated. This is not some outlier; it is a bizarre figure, deeply dubious, consisting of a large number of respondents, it obviously does not correspond to the truth for 620 of the respondents between 18 and 39 years old. Regnerus has said that his data set is “unique and high quality.” I’m sure it’s “unique” to find 620 people between 18 -39 who say they’ve never masturbated; but “high quality”? That’s no “high quality” data set. It’s as bogus as the invalid comparison Regnerus makes between his test group and his control group. And, there are Justifiable Doubts About Regnerus’s Survey Company, Knowledge Networks

    Regnerus and others promoting his apparently invalid study sing the praises of the survey company he used, Knowledge Networks, without inhibitions or qualifiers. Knowledge Networks of course is pleased to have Regnerus & Co. doing that terrific free advertising for the company.

    However, grave concerns legitimately exist surrounding the Knowledge Networks “panel” system of surveying and in particular, how the panel functioned for the Regnerus study.

    To cite but one concern: Regnerus boasts that he surveyed a lot of lower-income African-American and Hispanic alleged “lesbian mothers,” and that this gave him a truer view of “lesbian mothers” than that found in smaller convenience and/or snowball samplings, which often have involved a majority group of affluent white lesbian couples with children.

    However, Regnerus not only oversampled lower-income African-Americans and Hispanics; the way he did it throws into doubt whether any of his lower-income African-American and Hispanic “lesbian respondents” even ever actually had a “same-sex romantic relationship” at all. (The AMA, we must recall, noted in its amicus brief that Regnerus’s data do not make it possible to determine whether a study respondent’s parent’s perceived same-sex romantic relationship ever in fact occurred. Thus, absent this Knowledge Networks-related subsection of the allegations document, the AMA thinks that Regnerus’s data does not and cannot show whether any of Regnerus’s study subjects had “lesbian mothers” or “gay fathers”).

    Now, here is why the Knowledge Networks-related assertion is being made. When a person is recruited to the Knowledge Networks panel, they generally will take at least one survey for the company per week. And, the relationship between the panelist and Knowledge Networks can go on for a long time. One week, it is a marketing survey on snack chips. The next week, the survey might be about favorite movies or TV shows. The following week, the survey could be about an illness. Then the next week, the survey could be about ice-cream brands or public road construction. Respondents are paid $5 for each “screener” taken, and $20 for full surveys. For each survey taken, their names are entered into sweepstakes and raffles for larger cash prizes. Panel members who do not have home computers and internet service when they sign up with Knowledge Networks are given free laptops and free monthly internet service for as long as they are panel members. So those are the incentives for Knowledge Networks lower-income panel members to keep on taking at least one survey per week.

    As panel members get more experienced with survey taking, many begin to recognize certain “dog whistle” questions – questions that are “out of the usual for a survey” — as being indicative of what the survey is about. Many come to know to answer such “dog whistle” questions with the answer “Yes,” in order to continue with the full survey, to get the $20 payment and the sweepstakes entry, and to continue with the free laptop and internet service.

    The question in the Regnerus survey “Did your parent ever have a same-sex romantic relationship” is one of those “dog whistle” questions, extremely rare in such surveys, and thus a clear and unmistakable signal – a “dog whistle” — to the experienced Knowledge Networks panelists that for a “best chance” to stay in the survey, they should answer yes to that question. There is no fact-checking of these things; and no way for Regnerus or anybody else to verify whether the experienced, low-income habitual survey takers ever actually had a parent who had had a same-sex romantic relationship. The respondents can fill in the rest of the answers according to things from their real life, or even just make up any old answer, so long as it is not wildly inconsistent info from one response to another, or inconsistent with what Knowledge Networks already knows about their surveys-experienced panelist. In other words, some very significant quantity of Regnerus’s supposed young adult children of “lesbian mothers” are low-income, and or unemployed persons, taking surveys weekly because they have so few existing additional opportunities to get a job or to make money. And then, Regnerus reports that they are on public assistance, and he chalks it up to a “lesbian mother” having a young adult child on public assistance.

    You have to understand, to comprehend the gesamt story here, that the Regnerus study was not funded by “just any old conservative organization.” Regnerus was funded by some of the most malicious, unscrupulous, and powerful political gay bashers in the country. The so-called National Organization for Marriage’s Robert George — also of the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley foundation — is behind the funding and promotions of the Regnerus study. NOM sponsors anti-gay hate rallies where its speakers yell through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death.” NOM officials publish articles where they say that they are “unwilling” to live in a country that extends anti-discrimination protections to gay people. One NOM official took part in an all-day anti-gay hate fest at Liberty University; his session topic was “Homosexuals or Homo Sapiens; Who Deserves Protected Class Status?”

    NOM’s Robert George is an author of the anti-gay-rights NOM “pledge” signed by Romney. And, NOM has a very long and shameful history of distorting the scientific record to demonize gays in political contexts. That is where a thorough investigation between Regnerus and EVERYBODY involved with the genesis of his study is justified. All of the communications involving the Regnerus study with not just NOM officials, but also with NOM’s PR firm must be looked at. When NOM strategy documents were released through court order in March, they described plots to “drive a wedge” and to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gays. NOM has exploited anti-Semitism in the populace when doing so will further its hateful political aims. NOM also is suspected of money laundering: for example, Romney donated $10,000 to NOM for Proposition 8, through an Alabama PAC and that donation was kept secret until Fred Karger’s efforts at exposing NOM and its money laundering led to the public release of the information. Karger filed a complaint with election authorities in California; the state is now investigating. NOM habitually violates campaign finance laws, and then ties up courts in different states for years — and always, always, always, judges decide that NOM’s claims are without merit. If they had filed all their election finance laws in a single court, instead of in courts in state after state after state, a single court would already have stopped them from filing their ludicrous cases, which are just subterfuges to evade campaign finance laws. Oh by the way; NOM’s Robert George also is a board member of the Family Research Council, an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group. When CA Congressman Brad Sherman proposed a congressional resolution against the “Kill the Gays!” law in Uganda, Robert George’s FRC spent $25,000 lobbying *against* the resolution, on grounds it constituted “pro-homosexual promotion.” And, that isn’t even to mention, that Robert George’s US proteges were the ones who went to Uganda to hate-monger against gays in the first place, provoking the Uganda government into proposing the “Kill the Gays!’ law. Uganda tabloids started publishing names and addresses of known homosexuals and calling for their executions. And there were many executions of innocent gay people. That is what Regnerus’s study funder did not want to see a congressional resolution against, and what he authorized a $25,000 lobbying expense for protest against the congressional resolution. Now how do you think it happens that a (trained) sociologist comes up with a study that makes no valid comparison between its test group and control group? How does a graduate of sociology 101 even dare to show such craptastic junk to the world? Could it be that Robert George got him that $785,000 sweetheart deal? You don’t suppose money could have had anything to do with it, do you? What scholar in their right mind, desirous of a good reputation in their field, would even admit to having made so inappropriate a comparison between a test and control group as Regnerus did?


    Scott Rose

    July 31, 2012 at 5:44 am

  19. NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick

    The Republicans’ Problem

    Imagine you are Mitt Romney, running as a Republican for president.

    Your net worth is about $250 million.

    The people most eager to see you elected are billionaires — for example, the Koch brothers.

    The voters know you are getting tax deductions for your wife’s dressage horses.

    And you’re on record, promising to lower your own taxes and those of the Koch brothers, while raising taxes on the middle class.

    How in the world will you get middle class voters to support you?

    Scapegoating a Minority

    Scapegoating a minority is one of the oldest dirty tricks in the political books.

    Ignorance-fueled hatred is a goldmine for ruling-class people looking to gain an additional power advantage.

    You distract the lower classes’ attention from the fact that your bad economic policies are unjustly disadvantaging them, by portraying the hated minority as a mortal threat to them and the society.

    Why Demonizing Gays is so Effective Politically

    Given an ignorant enough block of people, one can have success by telling them that a hated minority is a danger to the nation, and is out to get their children.

    Notoriously, for example, the Blood Libel held that Jews stole Christian babies to use their blood to make matzo. It mattered not, that blood is not a matzo ingredient; lies give life to anti-minority demonization campaigns.NOM’s endless demonization of homosexuals is a tissue of lies.

    NOM, by the way, exploits anti-Semitism in the populace, when doing so will advance its anti-gay agenda.

    An Astonishing Coincidence

    The so-called National Organization for Marriage repeats and repeats that same-sex marriage will spell doom for civilization.

    And, the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted NOM’s enthusiasm for demonizing gays by fraudulently conflating homosexuals with pedophiles.

    Something the Catholic Church has done, with an enthusiasm equal to NOM’s.

    NOM has a great deal in common with the Catholic Church, which is a determined NOM collaborator. The Church conflates homosexuals with pedophiles, and five former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See endorsed Romney on the same day. What a coincidence, then, that the Republican party shields the Church from proposed legislation to lift the statutes of limitations for prosecution of child rape.

    The Evil NOM Plan to get Children of Gay Parents to Denounce Those Parents

    In March, 2012, NOM strategy documents became public through a court order. They described schemes to “drive a wedge between” and to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gay Americans. The election year political goal of the wedge driving, and the hostility fanning, is this; peel enough religious anti-gay African-American voters away from Obama for Romney in states with tight races, such as North Carolina, such that, together with other tactics, Romney wins in those states.

    Notice carefully; where NOM is very aggressively busy, attempting to get religious African-Americans to vote for Romney — mainly on the basis that “same-sex marriage is an insult to us and to God” — its greatest successes will most likely be among rural religious anti-gay African-Americans. That is to say, NOM is most likely to have election year success with the populations least likely to benefit economically from a Romney administration. That is why Romney considers NOM a key ally.

    The NOM strategy documents further described a scheme to get Latinos not to assimilate into modern American life, by maintaining opposition to gay rights, and making that opposition a marker of cultural identity. See what NOM was doing there for Republicans? The right wing complains all the time, that immigrants are not assimilating. So NOM is killing two birds with one stone; drive Latino voters to Republicans through hate-mongering against gays, while increasing, in the election year, an appearance that Latinos are not assimilating, the better to provoke white and African-American voters into voting for Republicans, who are tough against immigrants.

    Say it out loud; NOM is an arm of the national Republican party. National Republican leaders coordinate their strategies with NOM. NOM’s Robert P. George got Romney to sign the NOM pledge, he is personal friends with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom.

    One evil plot described in the NOM strategy documents seemed risible when first told to the public in March; NOM had planned to hire somebody, dedicated to getting children of gay parents to denounce their parents.

    Naive Democrats and gays scoffed. ”Look what that silly NOM tried to do! Looks like they couldn’t find a single kid to denounce his gay parents.”

    And, as far as that went, it might have been true.

    Yet, NOM co-founder Robert George had already secured $785,000 for a “fixed” sociological study that absolutely had to 1) produce results demonizing gay parents, and 2) be produced in a hurry and in time for the 2012 elections.

    NOM’s commissioned study, in effect, got children to appear to condemn their gay parents.

    Democrats and gays should not have scoffed, when they first learned that NOM was plotting to make gay parents look bad through their children. If NOM says it is carrying out an evil plan, look for NOM to be carrying that evil plan out.

    NOM’s and Regnerus’s Deceitfulness Related to the Study

    In his published study, Regnerus states forthrightly that his aim was to compare children of married heterosexual couples with “young adults who grew up with a lesbian mother or gay father.”

    Buried in Regnerus’s write-up of his study — which covered present-day young adults who were children up through the 1990s — is an admission that the majority of those among his survey responders who said 1) that one of their parents had had a “romantic relationships” with a same sex partner, had 2) been born to a mixed-sexual-orientation couple, whose gay or lesbian member eventually faced down the sham marriage, and came out as gay.

    What is Regnerus’s excuse for not including any planned gay families? The business of getting the surveys out and answered was contracted to a company called “Knowledge Networks.” Knowledge Networks does not go looking for specific demographics needed for a survey. The company will not, for example, take on a project where 3,000 left-handed Chinese people over 5’9″ are needed to answer questions. In the entire world, there are many more than 3,000 left-handed Chinese people over 5’9″. But the trick is, they are not in Knowledge Networks’ existing list of enrolled potential survey subjects. Knowledge Networks has an existing list of potential survey subjects; it will not go out looking for a demographic not adequately represented on its existing lists. The company does seek to sign up more general population members for later studies. That accrual of people from the general population, motivated to be on Knowledge Networks’ lists of potential survey responders, constituted the “public” from which Regnerus culled his study subjects.

    Regnerus alleges that it would be “too difficult” to find actual children raised by gay parents; the truth is, had he worked with a company that operates differently from Knowledge Networks, he would have been able to find an adequate number of children of gay parents. In particular, had Regnerus wished to be honest and accurate about a gay parent survey — instead of rushing his study to completion for Republican political purposes in an election year — he would have opted for the slower route of finding actual children raised mainly by gay parents.

    It’s a fact; NOM’s Robert George, who commissioned the study, needed to have it completed, with negative implications against gays, in time for use in the 2012 elections.

    The circumstances of the survey responder recruiting, and Regnerus’s evasions and untruths about the recruitment, alone are very incriminating of him.

    NOM and Regnerus appear to be colluding in a disinformation blitz, wherein the public is given to believe that Robert George handed off $785,000 to Regnerus, with no idea whatsoever about how Regnerus might wind up conducting his study, or whether he would even have it completed in time for the 2012 elections. Just how dumb do these people think we are?

    Important to note: Regnerus’s written study says that it was supported “in part” by the Witherspoon Institute, where George is Senior Fellow, and by the Bradley Foundation, where George is a Board member. Who gave the remainder of the money for the study, and how much did they give?

    It is known that secrecy for donors is a NOM specialty. Click into the pages of a Ku Klux Klan website, to where they talk about how “qualified” candidates can join the KKK. One reason the KKK always gives for joining, is that “It is a secret society; nobody on the outside will ever know that you belong.” The very fact that NOM has resorted to donor secrecy, demonstrates that its brand of bigotry increasingly is becoming too extreme for mainstream America.

    Nonetheless, even though Regnerus admits that he did not study planned gay families, he and NOM are running around, telling the public that a gay parent is a bad parent.

    Regnerus Politically in Cahoots with NOM

    Beyond stating that the intent of his study was to compare children of gay parents to children of heterosexual parents — (without actually studying children raised mainly by gay parents) — Regnerus describes study goals that correspond precisely to NOM’s political motivations, and that also happen to position him as a highly-paid “expert” on the superiority of heterosexual parents to gay parents. Regnerus states that previous studies of gay parents were carried out mainly on affluent subjects, and he praises himself for having carried out a study that included “gay” parents from the middle and lower classes.

    This is key, so pay attention: Although Regnerus studied people from different class levels — that is to say, people with dramatically different levels of access to money — his observations written and spoken about the differences in child outcomes are focused on the parents’ sexual orientation, the topic assigned him by NOM’s Robert George; not a word is said about how the parents’ financial situation impacted child outcomes. Regnerus does acknowledge that finances are a factor; but that’s all he does; he doesn’t at all talk about how money impacted outcomes. The study attracted a disproportionate number of African-Americans and Latinos, and especially, African-American and Latino adult offspring of gays or lesbians from broken heterosexual marriages, who were urgently needed in order for Robert George to get the type of “data” needed for his anti-gay Republican propaganda campaign.

    For emphasis; had Regnerus analyzed his data from the viewpoint of how money impacts child outcomes, he would have produced a result antithetical to Robert George’s Republican political goals for the study. Having taken $785,000 of Republican political money from George, Regnerus was not going to produce an analysis that George and the Republicans could not use to their advantage in the 2012 elections. When Regnerus denies that he produced political propaganda made to order on a cash commission, one must assume he is lying.

    How did Regnerus wind up with disproportionate representation of people of color mainly with modest to low incomes? Knowledge Networks provided incentives to participate; $5 for an initial screening, and $20 for taking the survey. Obviously, the less money one has, the more one will be motivated to earn $25 by responding to a survey. The bitter irony is that the disproportionate percentages of survey responders who took that tiny bit of pin money because they needed it, were enabling Republican operatives through a weapon to be used against them in the elections. Exactly how were wealthy people motivated to take this survey anyway, if that is not too much to ask? I have shown how the 1% stand to benefit from the political uses made of this study, and I have reported that a $25 incentive was paid to survey participants. Would a wealthy person responding to the survey be more motivated by the $25, or by the potential Republican political benefit to be had through the promotion of the study? There is no way to fact-check who took the study, because study subject confidentiality is part of survey ethics. I am just noting, if there was dishonesty involved in luring particular people to take the study and to answer it in assigned ways, we would have no way to learn whether that had happened.

    Regnerus writes in his study that negative results about gay parents were needed to counter studies that showed positive results for children of gay parents. And he says that his is the study that provides negative results. Regnerus writes: “the empirical claim that no notable differences exist” — (between children of straight and gay parents) — “must go.”

    No matter what nuance exists in other parts of Regnerus’s description of his study, his bottom line result for public consumption is that 1) whereas previous studies of gay parents showed that gay parents were not more harmful to children than heterosexual parents, they were all flawed. I have come to the rescue by 2) scientifically demonstrating that homosexual parents are a danger to children.

    Exactly what Dr. Robert George ordered!

    Regnerus also discusses how studies of gay parenting have been used for legislation and court cases; he is positioning himself to be NOM’s highly-paid “expert” for Senate and Congressional hearings and court rooms. He already knows that NOM’s Robert George can come through with the big bucks for him.

    Blame the Victims

    The lion’s share of “bad” outcomes for children that Regnerus and NOM pin on homosexual parents, actually are attributable to class differences.

    For example, “smoking marijuana” and “being arrested” and/or “being convicted or pleading guilty to any charges other than a minor traffic violation” are counted as “bad” outcomes (that get pinned on homosexual parents).

    Ask yourselves; if a person is innocent until proven guilty, why does merely getting arrested count as a “bad” outcome? Then ask yourselves; who is more likely to be falsely arrested, a white heterosexual man in a business suit, or a black teen wearing a hoodie?

    And consider how it happens, that people plead guilty, and/or are convicted of misdemeanors related to alleged illegal marijuana possession, or related to any alleged misdemeanor. If you are a teen from a wealthy family, your attorneys will either get your case dismissed, or get you the very minimum conviction and sentencing, and then they will, for a fee, help you to expunge the conviction from your record. But, if you are a teen from a poor family, the court will not care about you, you may or may not be assigned competent representation, and a judge, to get rid of your matter, might accept a plea bargain, without bothering to tell you that a competent attorney handling your case would get you off the charges.

    Regnerus assigns to various levels of “Educational attainment” labels of ”good” and “bad” child outcomes, even though he does note that money impacts educational opportunities. Face it; if a Romney son is accepted to Harvard, he’s going to Harvard. If the child of an unemployed welfare recipient gets into Harvard, but does not have adequate scholarship money, that child is not going to Harvard. Nonetheless, Regnerus and NOM are pinning lesser “educational attainments” on gay parents.

    Note; the differences between children of heterosexual and gay parents that Regnerus is crowing over, are allegedly “statistically significant,” but he is using them to smear all gay parents. Just because he found negative differences for some children of gay parents, does not mean that all — or even anything close to a majority — of children of gay parents had “bad” outcomes.

    Change the lens through which all the data in the NOM-Regnerus study are viewed, so that what gets compared is wealth and income level, and absolutely, you will see that the wealthier the parents, the better the statistical outcomes for the children, and the poorer the parents, the worse the statistical outcomes for their children. Yet we don’t hear Regnerus saying that his study showed that children of rich parents have better outcomes than do children of poor parents, no matter the parents’ sexual orientation. What we do hear Regnerus saying, is that previous studies of gay parents focused mainly on affluent gay-headed families, and that because his study included far more gay parents of modest to poor means, his study gives a better picture of what gay parents really mean in terms of child outcomes. Again, one must assume he is outright lying and he knows it; money is far greater a determiner of child outcomes than is a parent’s sexual orientation.

    The point is already established beyond any doubt, yet I’ll provide one more example. For the survey subjects to have been with a gay parent on public assistance is counted as a negative, and, for those children now as adults to be on public assistance also is counted as a “bad” outcome. Yet, with the unemployment picture in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis often meaning that for every job opening, there are five job seekers, why is being on public assistance counted as a “bad” outcome to be pinned on homosexual parents? It is urgently important to note, that a young adult unemployed — though with wealthy parents — would not be as likely to go on public assistance as an unemployed young adult with poor parents. Yet, Regnerus and NOM are telling the voting public that gay parents are more likely to produce children who go on public assistance. In his written study, Regnerus suggests that homosexual parents will produce more public-assistance dependent children — perfect for Republicans to use as a political weapon against homosexuals.

    I’m going to take that a step further. The study found far more children of a lesbian parent than of a gay male parent. Here is what Republican policies do; 1) they do not provide equal pay for equal work for women; 2) they do not provide anti-discrimination job protections for lesbians, or gays; 3) they do not provide the tax advantages for gay parents raising children; the extra money the government requires from the lesbian parents, is available for heterosexual parents to spend on their children, towards “good” outcomes.

    So the Republicans have the deck stacked against the lesbian parents judged to be “bad” parents through this survey, but the Republican NOM operative Robert George and his anti-gay shill Mark Regnerus are pinning the accountability for financial hardship on lesbian mothers instead of on Republican economic policies, where the blame belongs.

    Put the Blame Where the Blame Really Belongs

    There should be no discussion about the “results” of the NOM-Regnerus study that does not insist on acknowledging that the study above all is Republican party propaganda being used in an election year to pin the blame for Republican-led devastation of the middle classes fraudulently onto homosexual parents.

    Emphasis must be placed on the fact that NOM funded this study for Republican advantage in an election year, and that NOM and Regnerus are demonizing gay parents with no regard for how the additional stigmatization inflicts harm on innocent gay people and the children they are raising.

    Regnerus must not be let off the hook for his despicable collaboration with greedy malicious Republican bigots intentionally inflicting harm on innocent people, to gain additional political advantages for the 1%, while being paid handsomely thanks to the Republican operative Robert George.

    When Regnerus has access to a mass audience, he dances the dance that NOM’s Robert George, Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers want him to be dancing. For example, consider this ABC TV interview, where Regnerus directly states that children of gay parents have significantly worse outcomes than children of heterosexual married parents. Unlike in his written study, where one finds nuances, and admission that he can not claim causation between homosexual parents and the perceived “bad” outcomes, for the mass TV audience, the message he delivers boils down to “Homos hurt children.”

    Jerry Falwell’s and Matt Barber’s anti-gay Liberty University is a Republican-NOM political stronghold. Romney recently addressed the graduating class, telling them he shares their “values,” even though NOM’s William Duncan told a Liberty symposium that homosexuals are not human. In April, 2012, Matt Barber and other Liberty U. officials participated in Calvary Assembly’s “The Awakening; Turning Voices into Votes.” Barber’s segment — held in the “Sanctuary” — was titled “The LGBTQ (QIAAP) Agenda: Winning the Battle and Messaging the Masses.”

    That is what Regnerus is doing when he says on ABC TV that homosexuals hurt children; he is “messaging the masses,” for the Koch brothers, Mitt Romney and NOM.


    Scott Rose

    July 31, 2012 at 5:45 am

  20. @Orgtheory crew: If Scott Rose is a guest blogger, can we get the usual introductory post?



    July 31, 2012 at 7:44 am

  21. Yeah, ever heard of a link? It’s this new thing computers can do.



    August 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

  22. Quote/ This would be like studying Catholic Parenting and counting as Catholic anyone who had ever visited a Catholic Church at least once in their life. /Quote

    This sums up my general critique.



    August 1, 2012 at 1:30 am

  23. […] Fabio Rojas on OrgTheory […]


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: