Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Mark Regnerus at Five

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Five years have elapsed since Mark Regnerus made some of his wackiest predictions about the consequences of marriage equality.

We all know about Mark Regnerus' 2012 parenting study funded by Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. It was timed to influence the Supreme Court's deliberations in United States v. Windsor. It didn't work and no one with any academic gravitas seems to be arguing that gays are crappy parents.

More recently — five years ago this month — Regnerus was even more uncivil in predicting the consequences of marriage equality. The link no longer works but I saved the text of a February, 2014 speech that Regnerus gave at Franciscan University (Jeremy Hooper found this gem). In retrospect regnerus was almost comical in his absurdity. I doubt that Mark Regnerus is amused by being held accountable for his past statements:
If gay marriage is perceived as legitimate by heterosexual women, it will eventually embolden boyfriends everywhere, and not a few husbands, to press for what men have always historically wanted but were rarely allowed: sexual novelty in the form of permission to stray without jeopardizing their primary relationship.
In the same speech, Regnerus claimed that same-sex marriage would result in a large increase in heterosexual anal sex. Why was Regnerus so concerned and why would he speculate about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom?

I get it. Regnerus, a Catholic convert, is a staunch defender of the faith. The Church has put considerable resources into opposing marriage equality and it is still pushing for overturning Obergefell. The bishops believe that, over time, they can erode the constitutional rights of gay citizens just as they have degraded abortion rights. The problem is that there never were — and never will be — dire consequences of same-sex marriage.

Mark Regnerus was on relatively safe ground. Aside from the fact that he was speaking at an ultra-conservative Catholic university, there is no way to determine if his predictions would ever come to pass.

However, if there was no way to gauge the accuracy of Regnerus' Magic 8 Ball then there is no fundamental basis for the predictions. There was no way to establish a correlation, let alone causation. If there was no scientific basis for the statements then they fall into the category of rank bigotry.

That should come as no surprise. Regnerus' 2012 paper on parenting was based on the hypothesis that gays were terrible parents. The study was funded by religious conservatives who wanted to claim that gays were terrible parents. Lo and behold Mark Regnerus delivered the desired result which was based on religious disapproval of gay people so gays were terrible parents.

Using selective observation and a biased study design Regnerus attempted to turn a religious objection into a secular reality. It was an intellectually dishonest endeavor to say the least. That dishonesty was amplified by claims of proof that did not exist and that part was not the entirely Regnerus' fault.

Witherspoon Institute and National Organization for Marriage were just two of the promoters of a study result that just wasn't there. Some of you may recall that very weird Dan Savage/Brian S. Brown meeting in 2012 at Savage's home. One of the first things out of Brown's mouth was a defense of Mark Regnerus.

There are two things that Mark Regnerus never considered:
  1. We have long memories and;
  2. A history of bias and dishonesty would eventually catch up to him.

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