Parenting Study Author Regnerus Admits Faults With Data

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com October 30 2012 1:33 PM ET

The researcher behind a controversial family structure study released earlier this year has admitted that the tactics used to analyze his data, which initially claimed that gay parents were unfit to raise children, were flawed. He still, however, stands behind his findings.

Mark Regnerus, a professor at the University of Texas, released the results of the study in June to the journal Social Science Research. The study compares the adult lives of 40 people and claims to have found a difference in the lives of those who grew up with a mother in a lesbian relationship and those who grew up with two married heterosexual parents who were still married.

The study was criticized for not examining the lives of adult children of stable lesbian parents. Many of the study's children considered to be raised in gay households were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship, whereas many of the children in heterosexual households had two married parents. Children of parents who had at one time in their lives been in a same-sex relationship were considered to be part of a "gay household."

"There were two cases where they said the mom and her partner lived together for 18 years," Regnerus said in a recent interview with Focus on the Family, as cited by ThinkProgress. "There was another several who lived together for 15 or 13 years. So, stability in the sense of long-term was not common. And frankly, it’s not all that common among heterosexual population. I take pains in the study to say this is not about saying gay or lesbian parents are inherently bad."

The professor admits that his evaluation was not correctly executed, especially because he was leaning so heavily on how the children of gay parents perceived their parents' sexual orientation.

"I didn’t ask [the children] whether they thought their mom was a lesbian or if their dad was gay," Regnerus said. "Because, in part, self-identity is a different kind of thing than behavior, and lot of people weren’t 'out' in that era."

He added, "I’d be more careful about the language I used to describe people whose parents had same-sex relationships. I said 'lesbian mothers' and 'gay fathers,' when in fact, I don’t know about their sexual orientation -- I do know about their same-sex relationship behavior. But as far as the findings themselves, I stand behind them."

Despite the fact that he stands behind his findings, Regnerus's University has called for an investigation on his study. In the meantime, however, his study was used in federal court cases as an argument in favor of upholding the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.