Peter Sprigg writes this letter to the editor in response to Andrew Ferguson's article, "Revenge of the Sociologists," in the most recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
Andrew Ferguson has given a good overview of the attacks upon scholar Mark Regnerus for his scientifically valuable – but politically incorrect – contribution to the debate over “gay parenting” (“Revenge of the Sociologists,” July 30).
However, Ferguson criticizes the following summary of the Regnerus study by the Family Research Council (FRC) as an “overenthusiastic pronouncement:” “In a historic study of children raised by homosexual parents, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father.”
He calls this statement “inaccurate” because in the study:
1) The parents did not necessarily self-identify as “gay.”
2) The children were not necessarily “raised” by the “homosexual” parent.
3) The data was collected retrospectively from young adults (so “use of the present tense is jumping the gun”).
4) No causal relationship between the parent’s sexuality and the negative outcomes was proven.
Ferguson fails to note that the statement quoted was merely the first, introductory sentence of a larger paper (nearly 3,000 words long), which included explanations of all of these points.
Even regarding this sentence, note:
1) FRC regularly uses the word “homosexual” to distinguish behavior from a “gay” self-identification.
2) Seventy-seven percent of Regnerus’ respondents did live with the parent while she or he was in a same-sex relationship.
3) Researchers frequently make inferences about the present based on past data.
4) It does not say the parent’s homosexuality caused the child’s disadvantages.
Ironically, the official website for Regnerus’s New Family Structures Study includes the following summary of his findings (emphasis added): “[T]he data show rather clearly that children raised by gay or lesbian parents on average are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children raised by the intact family of their married, biological mother and father.”
Perhaps Ferguson’s quibbling critique, rather than FRC’s (out-of-context) quote, is the more “overenthusiatic pronouncement.”
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies
Family Research Council