Peter Sprigg

What you need to know about the Mark Regnerus study of homosexual parents

Peter Sprigg
By Peter Sprigg

University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus sparked a firestorm of criticism from pro-homosexual activists when his peer-reviewed scholarly article on children raised by homosexual parents was published in the journal Social Science Research in June. Using a large, population-based sample, Dr. Regnerus found that children whose parents had a same-sex romantic relationship while the child was growing up suffer deficits compared to children raised by their own married biological mother and father.

Because the study undermined the politically correct claim that such children are “no different” from children with heterosexual parents, and because it reinforced a key point made in defense of the natural definition of marriage as the union of man and woman (namely, that kids need both a mom and a dad), it became urgent for pro-homosexual activists to discredit the study and, if possible, destroy Regnerus.

That effort, thus far, has failed. When a liberal blogger who uses the pen name “Scott Rose” filed a complaint with the University of Texas charging Regnerus with “scientific and scholarly misconduct.” Although Rose had little standing to bring such a charge, the University convened a four-person faculty committee (and hired an outside expert in “research integrity”) to conduct an “inquiry” into whether the charges merited in-depth investigation. The conclusion was clear: “Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct . . . None of the allegations . . . put forth by Mr. Rose were substantiated.” (This was hardly a surprise; as the journal article itself stated, “Both the study protocol and the questionnaire were approved by the University of Texas at Austin’s Institutional Review Board”–before the research was even undertaken.)

Because of the importance of the Regnerus study–and the viciousness of the attacks upon it and him–I have written about it several times since its release in June. I am here posting links to each of these papers and posts, to provide the reader with convenient one-stop access to all of them.

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THE “HOMOSEXUAL PARENTING” DEBATE

My first Issue Brief explained the importance of this study in the context of the debates over homosexual parenting and what the research shows. It explained why Regnerus’ methodology was superior to that of virtually all previous studies on this subject–as demonstrated by the article which accompanied Regnerus’s, by Loren Marks, which showed the serious weaknesses of other “gay parent” studies usually relied upon by those who claim “no differences” from heterosexual parents. It also briefly summarized Regnerus’s findings.

Peter Sprigg, “New Study on Homosexual Parents Tops All Previous Research: Children of Homosexuals Fare Worse on Most Outcomes,” Issue Brief; online.

FINDINGS IN DETAIL

In response to requests for a more thorough summary of the actual findings in the Regnerus study, I prepared a second Issue Brief. This piece is shorter than the first, because it contains less narrative explanation, but it actually includes more detailed data on the findings, as well as a response to some of the key criticisms of the study. One of its key points is that the New Family Structures Study did not just compare children of homosexual parents to children of married, biological parents. It also compared them to children of heterosexual parents from several other (less stable) family forms–and found the children of homosexuals at a disadvantage in those comparisons, as well:

Peter Sprigg, “Homosexual Parent Study: Summary of Findings,” Issue Brief; online.

THE MEDIA: GETTING THE STORY WRONG

The pushback against Regnerus was so immediate and so intense that even conservative media outlets made mistakes in covering it. One such outlet was The Weekly Standard, which criticized FRC’s summary of the study (a single sentence taken out of the context of the first Issue Brief, although The Weekly Standard did not mention that). In response to this article, I wrote a two-part blog post. The first explained why The Weekly Standard criticism of FRC was unjustified:

Peter Sprigg, “The “Homosexual Parent” Study and The Weekly Standard, Part 1: Making Mountains out of Molehills,” FRC Blog; online.

Part 2 of this blog post pointed out errors which author Andrew Ferguson made in the Weekly Standard article which were far more deserving of criticism than FRC’s summary:

Peter Sprigg, “The ‘Homosexual Parent’ Study and The Weekly Standard, Part 2: Making Molehills out of Mountains,” FRC Blog; online.

AN “AUDITOR’S” WEAK CRITIQUE

Finally, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article summarizing findings (not yet published) by a critic of the study who was appointed to “audit” it by the Social Science Research journal’s editor. The Chronicle’s headline labeled the study “severely flawed,” and the article quoted the auditor, Darren Sherkat, describing the Regnerus paper as “b***s***.” However, the actual criticisms described in the article ranged from weak to completely implausible, as I wrote on the FRC Blog:

Peter Sprigg, “An Obscenity and a Headline Can’t Discredit Study of Homosexual Parents,” FRC Blog; online.

FRC will continue to monitor the reactions to the Regnerus study. However, I remain convinced that far from being “discredited,” the New Family Structures Study will stand as the gold standard for research in this field for years to come.

Reprinted from Family Research Council.

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted “people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees” and “wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

“A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an "enemy of the Church" would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term "mafia," he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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