A UT associate professor’s controversial research is again stirring debate, this time in Minnesota, where it is being used to defend a proposed ban on gay marriage.
Minnesota for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage advocacy organization, has taken the highly criticized gay parenting study produced by UT associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus and made it a focal point in its campaign for the proposed ban’s passage. The proposed ban comes in the form of an amendment to the Minnesota constitution and is set to appear on the state’s Nov. 6 ballot. The proposed ammendment states that “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”
Although same-sex marriage is not currently recognized under Minnesota state law, supporters of the amendment say it will make it harder to legalize in the future.
A video published by the Minnesota organization cites statistics from Regnerus’ study stating that children raised by gay parents are at a significant disadvantage when compared to those raised by heterosexual parents, for multiple reasons.
“They are 10 times more likely to have been touched sexually by an adult, four times more likely to have been forced to have sex against their will, 30 percent less likely to identify themselves as being heterosexual, three times more likely to have had an affair, four times more likely to currently be on public assistance and nearly four times more likely to have been on welfare while growing up,” the video stated.
The academic community has criticized Regnerus’ study since its release in June because of the research methods used. The study compares the children of heterosexual couples with children who, for the most part, were not raised by same-sex couples in a committed relationship. For example, the child of a “lesbian mother” could be used as a test subject in the study if the mother had been in a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the length of the relationship and the role of the other woman in raising the child.
Social Science Research, the journal that originally published Regnerus’ study, ordered a member of its editorial board, Darren Sherkat, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University, to conduct an audit of the study.
Sherkat and other opponents of the study say they believe it was created with a political agenda in order to raise public support for anti-gay marriage initiatives.
“The entire purpose of the Regnerus study was to manipulate public opinion against civil rights for sexual minorities,” Sherkat said.
Richard Bellamy, UT law student and member of OUTlaw, the gay, lesbian, transgender, queer and bisexual law school alliance organization, said he hopes he will see more response from the UT community in the near future as the study is increasingly used for political means.
“The University of Texas is a diverse community of students and faculty that have the power to counteract the potential impact on marriage equality and show the country that the University is not as out-of-touch as this makes it seem,” Bellamy said. “We can mitigate the impact of this study on equality and UT’s reputation by getting out there to develop support for equality in Minnesota, since apparently the administration is content with how things are.”
The University announced last month it would not conduct an investigation into Regnerus’ study, as there was no evidence of scientific misconduct.