Regular readers will remember Mark Regnerus, the ethically challenged researcher from the University of Texas at Austin. I need to thank my friends Scott Rose and LGBT ally Devon for their vigilance around this nefarious man and the far reaching impact of his lies (flawed research). His “New Family Structures Study” appeared in the journal Social Science Research and argued that children raised by LGBT parents suffered negative outcomes. His statistical methods were deeply flawed (at best) and his conclusions so tenuous that even he could provide only the flimsiest defenses when challenged. It is pretty clear that the Witherspoon Institute, the homophobic far-right think tank that underwrote his research had a very political agenda.
Now it looks like Regnerus and his funders will do everything they can to hide that agenda. Journalist John Becker is trying to get to the bottom of things and has so far been blocked at every turn. The editor of the journal, James Wright, is on the faculty of the University of Central Florida, making his communications subject to public records requests. When Becker filed such requests, the University denied them, maintaining that the communications belong to the publisher, Elsevier. Becker’s attorneys are filing suit, arguing that the article belongs to the publisher — which is more than happy to have it cited and quoted widely — but that any of Wright’s communications belong to the University.
Why all the secrecy? The study was rushed to publication in just six weeks; papers usually take months, often more than a year, to review before publication. An independent audit determined that the review process was so sloppy that the “paper should never have been published.” An investigation by the American Independent makes it clear the Witherspoon Institute wanted some damning data to include in their brief to the Supreme Court opposing marriage equality in the Prop 8 and DOMA hearings.
So there you have it. Two professors — a “researcher” and an editor — cooking a study to meet a foregone conclusion and rushing it to print to meet a well-funded political agenda. Two universities supporting that work and publication. Flawed and dangerous data spreading lies about the LGBT community to influence critical court cases. Most people have rejected the publication, but it is out there for bigots to wield however they like while Regnerus and Wright suffer nothing for their abuse of power–what strange bedfellows-producing and publishing lies for money. I believe many might just call these two whores!