Anti-marriage groups tout flawed “study” that condemns gay and lesbian parenting

Early last week, a flawed and misleading "study" on parenting suggested that children of gay and lesbian parents face more challenging lives when compared to children of different-sex parents. The paper, entitled "New Family Structures Study," was authored by Mark Regenerus, a right-wing professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and it was funded primarily by the Witherspoon Initiative, an anti-gay think tank.

The paper attempts to make a claim that there are many negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples, but it doesn't even consider same-sex couples raising children together in loving and committed relationships. Claims expressed in the "study" contradict 30 years of viable research from the top minds in the country. This history of research - which has been reviewed by groups like the Child Welfare League of America, the National Adoption Center, the National Association of Social Workers, and other child welfare organizations - demonstrates that children raised by parents who are LGBT are equally as successful as children raised by straight couples. 

Last week, our founder and president Evan Wolfson expressed his concern in a joint release from the Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Wolfson said:

The two million kids being raised by 1 million gay parents in this country are doing great, and would do even better if their parents didn't have to deal with legal discrimination such as the denial of the freedom to marry, and ongoing attacks such as this kind of pseudo-scientific misinformation and the disinformation agenda that's funding it. 

Despite all of the flaws in the paper, groups opposed to the freedom to marry are now working to promote the paper to push their anti-gay agenda. In the coming months, we expect anti-marriage groups to use this paper as a weapon in battleground states, pointing to it in order to condemn same-sex couples as bad parents. Anti-gay groups across the country seeking to push marriage discrimination - including the National Organization for Marriage, Minnesota for Marriage, Preserve Marriage Washington, Protect Marriage Maine - have been touting the "study" for the past two weeks in hopes of spreading fear and propelling uncertain voters toward denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry. 

A new article from The American Independent takes a look at the funders of the paper, revealing the conservative foundations behind the effort. The article reads:

The study was funded by the Witherspoon Institute with a grant totaling $695,000. The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank founded by prominent Catholic intellectuals Luis Tellez and Robert George. George, a professor at Princeton University, also sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation, which gave Regnerus another $90,000 for the study.

Groups closely connected to the Witherspoon Institute and Bradley Foundation touted the study last week as evidence that gay parenting poses risks for children, and that intact, opposite-sex couples make the best parents.

The National Organization for Marriage, which was co-founded by George and shares several board members with the Witherspoon Institute, devoted five blog posts to the study the week it was released.

Freedom to Marry urges Americans throughout the United States to stop and consider all of the flawed and misleading components of this scientifically unsound "study." Thirty years of research demonstrates that the children of gay and lesbian couples grow up to be just as successful as the children of different-sex couples, and this bogus paper should be viewed as a biased and false distortion of reality.