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07/08/2014

Without his bad magic, there wouldn't have been a 'Mark Regnerus witch-hunt'

by Jeremy Hooper

For whatever reason, several different socially conservative outlets have featured pieces over the past couple of days voicing support for the now-demolished study that Texas researcher Mark Regnerus foisted onto the world with the proven help of catalysts in the anti-gay conservative movement. Even though his study designed to attack gay-headed families was recently laughed out of a court of law, even though wiser conservative political figures have distanced themselves from the junk study, and even though Regnerus has essentially corroborated the years of scrutiny by basically coming out as an out and proud anti-gay activist and pundit, groups like NOM and the Family Research Council have both used their platforms to pretend that Regnerus' work is really a "gold standard" (FRC's actual phrase), and conservative outlets like National Review have followed suit.

For the most part, I am totally okay with this increasingly foot-shooting movement pretending like this research is credible. It only makes them look terrible. It reminds me of how conservative groups continued to cite Paul Cameron years after everyone knew his crude and vicious work was downright bunk. Eventually the anti-gay groups wised up and stopped citing Cameron, but many of these groups did plenty of damage to their reputations before they had their epiphanies, showing the world just how willing they are to lie and promote outright fallacy in order to demean LGBT people. I suspect continued citation of Regnerus' resoundingly condemned work poses the same risks for the pro-discrimination crowd.

However, I do want to focus on this one line from Jason Richwine's 7/7 National Review piece. See the highlighted portion:

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 At 9.17.26 Am
[NRO]

"Witch-hunt," you say? Oh please! The very reason why the Regnerus study came about was because anti-gay groups wanted to attack same-sex-headed families in an election year when marriage was on several states' ballots, marriage cases were heading to the Supreme Court, and a president was obviously heading toward greater support for equality. That was the real hunt, and those of us who defend equality saw it for what it was from the very beginning. I know because I was there.

The day before the Regnerus study came out, in June of 2012, I was at conference with other top LGBT activists. I remember precisely where I was. I was coming off of an escalator when a friend of mine from a pro-LGBT family organization came over and asked me to join a conference call about a study that was coming out the following day. Everyone instantly recognized this "study" as propaganda, and diligent opposition researchers even began putting the pieces together right there, on that very first day. It was just so obvious! You didn't have to be all that familiar with these kinds of studies to see the deep flaws and the obviously biased motivations that brought it into being. Within days, if not hours, of the study's release, smart writers nationwide began raising the proper questions and poking the right holes.

Even if you call this a "witch-hunt" rather than the fair debate rebuttal that it actually is, the fact is that there wouldn't have been any room for a "witch-hunt" were it not for the improperly cast spells and obvious voodoo embedded within the study. I know conservatives love to pretend that activists and the media can create a "witch" where there isn't one, but that is really not the case when it comes to something like this. If the science were sound, the science would've earned a strong and able defense. But it wasn't and it didn't. If the pushback felt like a "witch-hunt," that's only because the supposed findings and those findings' misapplication was more sorcery than it was science.

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