‘Gay marriage hurts kids,’ zombie edition

Last summer I wrote, “The Supreme Court Kills the ‘Gay Marriage Is Bad for Kids’ Argument.” But now comes this in the New York Times: “Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage Take Bad-for-Children Argument to Court.” So I guess it’s undead, at least long enough to pay a few more expert witness fees.

The NYTimes story covers their approach, which I can’t imagine will get past Anthony Kennedy at the Supreme Court, who has made it clear which direction the harm runs. He wrote in the decision last summer that, under the Defense of Marriage Act,  “same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” which “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

Maze update

Anyway, today’s story leads us back to the Regnerus affairIn a 2010 email (described here) — one that presumably taught the young Mark Regnerus not to put everything in his university emails, the one that would definitively expose that Brad Wilcox lied about his role in the study — Regnerus wrote to Wilcox:

I would like, at some point, to get more feedback from Luis and Maggie about the ‘boundaries’ around this project, not just costs but also their optimal timelines (for the coalition meeting, the data collection, etc.), and their hopes for what emerges from this project, including the early report we discussed in DC.

I knew that referred to Luis Tellez* from the Witherspoon Institute, but I couldn’t be sure that “Maggie” was Maggie Gallagher. But it now appears from expert deposition in the upcoming Michigan trial (from David Allen here, and Joe Price here) that the DC meeting was organized by Heritage Foundation staff, who paid for the participants’ travel expenses. And it included Gallagher, David Blankenhorn, Wilcox and Regnerus. This is not surprising, but it’s important, because it puts those experts, who went on to produce research for the cause, in a meeting organized for the purpose of developing the legal case against gay marriage. This could be relevant to their status as expert witnesses, but it’s also relevant to the politics-of-science aspect of this whole thing.

So we can update the Regnerus affair maze, adding Gallagher, Blankenhorn, and Heritage (now I’m out of spots):


My opinion

In case it’s not obvious, I would like to express this opinion: honest social scientists do not combine these activities: (1) secret meetings with partisan activist groups to raise money and set political agendas for their research; and, (2) omitting mention of those associations later. If Regnerus, Wilcox, Allen, and Price, had included acknowledgements in their publications that described these associations, then they would be just like anyone else who does research on subjects on which they have expressed opinions publicly: potentially legitimate but subject to closer scrutiny (which should include editors not including people from the same group as reviewers). Failure to disclose this in the publication process is dishonesty.

Funny aside: just the other day I used the NYTimes‘ habit of quoting Andrew Cherlin on family trends as an example of the paper’s narrow reach into the deep bench of publicly engaged sociologists. And here he is again, quoted making the well-known observation that, “The overwhelming evidence so far is that there’s not much difference between children raised by heterosexual or same-sex parents.” What’s disappointing is that he serves as the story’s voice above the fray — the expert who is “not involved in the case” — when they have the American Sociological Association’s report making the same argument with what should be more heft toward the end of the story.

Tell it like it’s not addendum

This issue of the political agenda behind the research has been raised as a possible reason to disqualify the anti-equality expert witnesses. To that end, apparently, the Brigham Young economist Joseph Price took a grant from the Witherspoon Institute off his CV — but not before the plaintiff’s counsel saw it, leading to this funny exchange during his deposition (at tiny-page 15 here; pointed out to me by Neal Caren):

price-lieThis justification, that the grant “doesn’t really fit the category of a grant in the same way others do,” as a reason to completely take it off your CV, is somewhere between highly unusual and just plain ludicrous.

* 9/30/2014: Looks like I had the wrong Luis Tellez on her before. Sorry. The Witherspoon Tellez is not as into having his picture online as the other guy with that name.

17 thoughts on “‘Gay marriage hurts kids,’ zombie edition

  1. For the readers let me simply list the Actors in this *Right Wing Research Conspiracy* who all got together in Washington DC to plan out anti gay research
    Heritage Foundation
    Witherspoon Institute
    Maggie Gallagher
    Luis Tellez
    Mark Regnerus
    Brad Wilcox
    Joe Price
    Doug Allen
    David Eggebeen
    Walter Schumm
    Paul Vitz

    List with the links-
    (I’m not giving links to Heritage, Witherspoon, Maggie Gallagher & Luis Tellez President of Witherspoon Foundation as most people already know who they are.
    ***Brad Wilcox – My armchair opinion is that Brad Wilcox is the rainmaker kingpin. I think he is the researcher behind all the organizing. Luiz Tellez said that Brad organized the Witherspoon New Family Structures Project-
    “Wilcox was involved in the process that led to the study’s creation, Tellez said.
    “His role was to help assemble an initial group of scholars, Mark Regnerus included, out of which came the idea of the NFSS,” Tellez said.”

    ***Joe Price See the Doug Allen Entry, Price was one of the 3 Economists.
    ***Doug Allen – He along with Joe Price and Catherine Pakaluk -Ave Maria University(the 3 Economists) wrote the anti Rosenfeld Study.
    The anti Rosenfeld Study was sent to Regnerus to review prior to publication at the recommendation of Helen Alvaré Through Chiaroscuro Foundation
    Doug Allen Linked to Pakaluk to Alvaré to Regnerus
    starting on .pdf page 32 “Helen Alvare put me in touch”

    ***David Eggebeen- He wrote a review of the Regnerus Research that was published in Social Science Research alongside the Original Publication in Social Science research

    ***Walter Schumm- He wrote a commentary on Regnerus published in Social Science Research Supporting Regnerus. Schumm was a paid consultant to the Regnerus Study

    ***Paul Vitz- In an e-mail Schumm says Vitz was at the DC Meting.

    Efforts are ongoing to expose the other Participants in the Heritage/Maggie Gallagher Meetings.


  2. At the risk of “hogging” the comments, I’ll just add this then let others participate.
    You gotta remember with this group *They Do It For God!*
    It is not simply Right Wing, it is researchers who are motivated to do research for GOD.
    Mark Regnerus- 30 days before he submitted his study for publication,

    “While only a brief exchange, his comments highlighted potential intersections between Mark’s personal engagement with his Catholicism and his research on sexual behavior. It also hinted at future contributions that his academic research could potentially make to the larger Catholic Church.”

    Someone at Notre Dame must have thought this incriminating and deleted the webpage, but I got it back through the Wayback Machine.


  3. Not to beat to a dead horse and abuse Phillip’s hospitality but lets not forget Paul Amato’s conflicted roll in this trainwreck of a “study” I very much doubt Amato had the same political intentions as the actors listed above but that does not excuse his extremely poor judgment in serving as a paid planning consultant, peer reviewer, and publishing a written semi-critical commentary alongside the original study as documented in his open email to this blog.
    Finally, hats off to Phillip for the tireless and often thankless work he does in publishing this blog. He does a great service in helping to translate the findings of academic sociology for members of the lay public like myself. Unlike many bloggers, he makes every effort possible to disclose his own personal point of review while at the same time striving to accurately reflect and respect the work of those who he criticizes. He has done so much within his own field and with this blog to defend the interests of minorities and children, particularly when it comes to fellow scholars like Regnerus.


  4. I’ll just drop a bunch of links on Court Briefing on the Trial that starts Tuesday.


  5. Like

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