The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Author of Discredited Anti-Gay Study to Speak at NOM Affiliate Conference

By Evelyn Schlatter on May 29, 2013 - 3:30 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

Mark Regnerus, the author of a widely discredited 2012 study purporting to show that same-sex parents are bad for children, will be speaking this weekend at a conference sponsored by the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Geared toward college students, the annual It Takes a Family (ITAF) conference addresses issues like marriage (should be heterosexual), family (should also be heterosexual), and sex (heterosexual and should ideally not take place outside of marriage).

Today, in the summer issue of its Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center released an interview with Dr. Darren Sherkat, professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University and board member of the respected peer-reviewed journal Social Science Research, which published Regnerus’ study. Sherkat was charged with auditing the study’s publication process. He came to the same conclusions that scores of other sociologists and social scientists have: The Regnerus study is severely flawed and should not have been published.

Regardless, the study was immediately trumpeted by anti-gay groups and has been used as a tool in anti-gay battles against marriage equality. The day after its publication, for example, the American College of Pediatricians (a tiny anti-gay breakaway group from the American Academy of Pediatrics) cited it in an amicus brief for a court case in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. In the firestorm the followed the study’s publication, questions arose about the timing of its release, and there is information to suggest that Regnerus was actually recruited by the Witherspoon Institute, an influential conservative think tank that opposes marriage equality, to produce the study (the Institute granted Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas, nearly $700,000). Correspondence between the Institute’s president and donors seems to indicate that the president clearly expected results unfavorable to marriage equality.

Regnerus is now a darling of the anti-gay right, even though he has publicly admitted that his study’s conclusions are too weak to reach the conclusions that many have drawn. That clearly hasn’t stopped the invitations. He’ll be speaking at the Ruth Institute’s upcoming ITAF about why pre-marital sex is bad and how to understand same-sex parenting studies (he may even bring up one of his other claims – that watching pornography makes straight men support gay marriage). He’s clearly found a receptive audience for his work, and he’ll be in good company, like fellow conference speakers Robert Gagnon, a theology professor who has railed about the “significant pathological side” of homosexuality, which he has linked to pedophilia, and Autumn Leva, a spokesperson for Minnesota for Marriage, a group that has claimed that gay people should not be allowed to get married because they’re too promiscuous. Other speakers include Bill Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, which opposes marriage equality; Thomas Peters of NOM, who supports ex-gay therapy and has compared homosexuality to alcoholism; and Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse, who has said of marriage equality that “there really isn’t any future in sodomy” and has claimed that marriage equality will allow mentally unstable people, drug addicts, and people who aren’t really sure they’re gay to get married.

  • DDB9000


    Thank you so much for your posts, especially this…
    (and personally i look down upon anyone who engages in indiscriminate sexual conduct – that is about the stupidest thing that any person can do – sex should be a symbol of a mutually loving and respectful relationship).

    One of the things that the anti-gay right tries to do is make it look like everybody who approves of gay rights, including straight people, are some kinds of wild, crazed sex addicts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I am a straight man and I totally agree with that paragraph you wrote – but that’s for ME. I have no right to force my feelings about my sex/love life on anyone else. I don’t care it they are straight or gay, monogamous or promiscuous or whatever. That’s their right, and no-one should interfere with that. I may not approve of the way they live their lives, but as long as they don’t hassle me for my ways, I don’t hassle them for theirs. It’s really just that simple.

  • Erika

    sam, you need to be looking in the books of the Old Testament which the Christian Right likes to cite for their anti-gay passages – the view of prostitution presented is in fact very interesting and rather nuanced (particularly when realize that what is omitted is more telling then what is listed). And once you realize what is omitted you will realize the real reason why it was a scandal for Jesus to openly associate with prostitutes.

  • Erika

    Sam, does this “hook up culture” have any relation to those different colored plastic rings that high school girls would wear a few years back telling boys what sex acts they were willing to perform??? Maybe its related to those parties that were breathlessly reported by the media where all of the girls would wear different colors of lipstick and then perform oral sex on the boys to create a striped pattern??? Maybe its related to that old canard of the white nationalist the gang of young black men who run around raping white women???

    Seriously, is there like a club at colleges with a name like the Liberty Orgy Society which puts fliers up (or maybe Facebook announcements would now be used) saying that the Orgy Society will be having a party that would make Caligula blush coming up (“bring a friend”)???

    its not been that long since i graduated from college and even more recently that i graduated from law school, and i distinctly remember that while many of the boys (especially in those houses with Greek letters on the front) seemed to want to have sex with anything with a vagina the overwhelmingly dominant feeling among the girls was not mutual. In fact a woman who engaged in indiscriminate sexual conduct would be as socially shunned by the other girls (and even somewhat perplexingly by the boys who ultimately just do not like to share).

    So basically i think that like the colored plastic bands or the (if i remember correctly) “rainbow parties” you are reporting on something which is merely an urban legend. Every few years a new myth about college (or often high school students) being sexually active in some new vaguely disturbing way that tends to crumble under scrutiny shows up – and yes, if you can believe sexual surveys based upon self reporting there is a lot of sex going on on college campuses – but almost all of that sex is within “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationships.

    This “hookup culture” sounds suspiciously like some naive person overheard some talk about sexual conquests in a male locker room and was foolish enough to actually believe it – and with a large number of people (often known as Fox News viewers) willing to believe any story which makes one of their favored targets (colleges and universities which don’t you know indoctrinate young people to become Marxists) look bad such a story will quickly spread through breathless news reports and emails to make naive people who simply do not understand history (not the least of which is that numerous cultures through time actually encouraged young men to go to prostitutes to learn how to become a man even while strictly requiring virginity amoung young women (at least of their tribe)

  • Aron

    Hey Darrell, some of us DON’T WANT to accept Jeebus’s gospel: we’re called JEWS.

    Go preach elsewhere.

  • Darrell Hansen

    I am thankful we still live in a free country although “haters” like the SPLC is trying to change that. You libs have said yourselves, “you cannot legislate morality” and yet, here you go. People have the right to hate, as long as they do not hurt others. Only Jesus can change a heart to love evens ones enemies. In your hatred for God, you attack some pretty sincere men and women. Shame on you! I’m confident that some of these good men and women that you hate have done more to help people than your intimidation could ever do. Giving the life changing gospel to individuals can give people real hope and deliver them from the snares of sin. For your information, not everyone who preaches God’s word, does so with a condescending spirit. True Christians know they are simply sinners saved by grace. May God have mercy on you as you attack HIs people. You are going to need it.

  • Sam Molloy

    BTW, Erika, Jesus was criticized by the Religious Right of the time for hanging around with Prostitutes. The only references in the accepted Christian Bible about prostitution that I am familiar with condemn the Johns (“whoremongers”) and possible references by Paul to male hustlers and their older, wealthier clientele (arsenokoitai and malakoi), sometimes badly translated to refer to gay lovers in general.

  • Sam Molloy

    Erika, the facets of the recently named “Hookup Culture” I was referring to are related to taking sex less seriously than a handshake, where getting their name or a kiss on the mouth are out of bounds as too personal. These pre AIDS gay male attitudes have spread to straight females and are becoming the accepted norm among the college crowd. I certainly am making no moral judgements, only a health warning. I only mention it here as criticism of the Gender Enforcers, as I have an abiding belief that no straight person has anything at all to tell me about how to live my life sexually.

  • aadila

    Rey good points all.

    I think part of the issue is reducible to simple homophobia and this insane fear that homosexuality is the cooties or something that will be spread by contact or close association. Repeatedly these groups produce the same arguments that gays are on a mission to proliferate their sexuality through marriage and somehow pass this along to children.

    So when we boil it down the issue is that they fear more people might “become” gay, not whether or not such unions are healthy for kids. Even the very idea that other people might accept gays as social equals is to them an offense to their values.

    That then is the moral high horse they ride through communities and households where two people love one another and want to have kids, brandishing the flaming sword of compulsory heterosexuality and tearing people’s lives apart. That those people might be the same gender has already harmed their worldview, so they project that moral outrage by coming up with shaky studies and feeble arguments for why two gay parents are going to ruin the lives of the child.

    I think the only way that could even happen as a generalized thing is if our society is so stultified, prejudiced and openly hostile, that such families cannot circulate socially without condemnation and scorn at schools, churches, civic clubs, sports events and whatever constitutes a normal, healthy childhood in America.

    If there is any harm in a same sex marriage for kids, that harm comes from outside the family. It doesn’t have to be a big deal unless people make it into one.

  • Tobias A. Weissman

    Regnerus rhymes with Degenerous , Ellen Degenerous , that is. I find her upright, sincere and loving. Not like this hater, Mark Regerus. “Render unto Ceasor that which is Ceasor, and render unto God that which is God’s.” which the Bible tells us or better yet “Render unto the heterosexual that which is heterosexual, and render unto the homosexual that which is homosexual.”

  • Erika

    sam, most of that “hookup culture” is nothing new and has been around for years in your male dorms and frat houses (and in fact goes back to ancient times). Of course, much of the “hookups” exist solely in the male imagination or were not necessarily voluntary on the part of the young woman (see the closely related “date rape culture”) – and there is still the fact that society (and us women are actually much worse about this than you men) looks down upon sexually promiscious women so the sexual double standard is still alive and well. so basically much of what you call “hookup culture” is primarily a product of male fantasy, male privilege, and male domination.

    and of course, if you had any sense of history at all, you’d realize that there is really nothing new about this – read your Bible and notice the extremely frequent references to prostitution and prostitutes. Then there are the frequent mentions in the Old Testament about following conquests how the Ancient Hebrews carried off foreign women as “wives” or forced foreign women to become sex slaves as prostitutes. Note also that while men were allowed to run free having sex with lots of women, the sex lives of Ancient Hebrew women were tightly controlled (under the threat of death) by men. The Bible even says that rape victims should be forced to marry their attacker or be stoned to death. Note that the Ancient Hebrews were hardly the only culture who seemed to encourage their men to sleep around, openly encouraged prostitution, and openly followed military conquests with sexual conquests of foreign women. Almost all cultures in recorded history have done it – but only the Ancient Hebrews resulted in three major religions (and note the irony of what the selective citing of Old Testament law has resulted in people who claim to follow a book loaded with talk about prostitution, sexual conquests of women, and men having numerous wives and harems of concumbines becoming the morality police).

    There is nothing new here at all – its more of the same old sexual double standard as a way for men to sexually control women by encouraging men to sleep around.

    (and btw, i’m pretty sure i know of one college student who would be very eager to go to an “anti-sex” conference – won’t mention his name in the fear of having him show back up)

    (and personally i look down upon anyone who engages in indiscriminate sexual conduct – that is about the stupidest thing that any person can do – sex should be a symbol of a mutually loving and respectful relationship)

  • Raphael Salkie

    For a nice report on the first gay couple to get married in France after the law was recently changed, see:

  • http://Splc Tom Frazee

    Why, or how can we best defeat/overcome this ignorance. They lock themselves into pockets of re-enforcing, perpetuating psycho-cults, like some virus, preventing each other from sources of outside knowledge and opposing schools of reason. If teaching love, to our children was mandatory, they would grow up understanding that it is the act of caring and respect between mature humans, of all sexes, races, ethnic backgrounds, ages, etc. and the simple truth is the more we are able to love, the richer our lives will become. Yes, I see the fallacy of my naive dreams. We’ld better unite, organize our asses, because strength is the only way to combat their persistent, cruel and destructive activities. They’re not going away; they’re growing stronger! We need to put faces on them. Wanted posters! Paste them on the walls and polls, everywhere. We must stop them from arresting, beating and killing us, one at a time!

  • Reynardine

    Post WW II, quite a few children whose fathers had been killed were raised by a mother and an aunt, or a mother and a grandmother. When deaths in childbirth were a great deal more common than now, it also happened that children were raised by a father and a grandfather, or a father and an uncle. For the most part, these children turned out all right
    Any child brought up by males is still likely to have female teachers. A child brought up by women is less likely to have male influence, but will nonetheless be presented with far more positive male role models in the popular culture than female ones. No adult should act out sexually in front of children. These are simple concepts, and anyone ought to get them

  • aadila

    What worries me here, besides the bigotry, is that the anti-homosexual crowd loves to chat up this idea of same sex marriages being bad for kids without looking at some of the statistics of the status quo (i.e. “traditional” marriage) that show how sick our culture really is. I mean flat out diseased.

    There are by some studies 4 million kids taking stimulants and half a million taking heavy anti-psychotic medications in America today. This is largely environmental. Why is this happening? Not because of the homosexuals. This is happening in heterosexual households.

    Any union, traditional or untraditional, is going to be challenged by the economic reality that in America today the only value any human being has it what can be produced. Human worth can be reduced to a dollar sign in America. Production value taken out of the equation, people have no value at all, because they cannot enrich those who own the means of production. Who keep owning it by pushing down the worker.

    That is America.

    So we have both parents working, companies raping their paychecks with a measly fraction of what people produce, granting a piddling two weeks vacation or maybe one, cutting back on insurance benefits, throwing pregnant women overboard and encouraging people to live their entire lives to bolster the profits of the 1%. Wage labor is a form of bond slavery, and our culture insists upon it.

    No wonder out children suffer. It’s not because of what gender people prefer to have sex with. It’s because our entire soulless capitalist culture is all about getting the most out of workers while paying them least. This raises stress, reduces time for families to be together, and creates an unsustainable drive toward material “success” that means little more than collecting the biggest pile of dung before we die.

  • Sam Molloy

    NOM and the followers of the Michelle Bachmann ideals of gender norms should spend their energy cleaning up their own back yard. In a perfect world there are a lot of Hetero couples that would be logically barred from having children. The current “Hookup Culture” on campuses, while they tend to use birth control, is reminiscent of the hedonistic Gay culture that led to the AIDS pandemic, and they are vulnerable to some currently unknown illness catching them with their pants down, as it were.

  • concernedcitizen

    “there really isn’t any future in sodomy” and has claimed that marriage equality will allow mentally unstable people, drug addicts, and people who aren’t really sure they’re gay to get married.”

    Are we to draw the conclusion that only gay people sodomize one another? It appears that Regnerus hasn’t watched the porn he’s been spouting off about.

    And we are also to assume that mentally unstable people and drug addicts don’t get married now, but with the introduction of gay and lesbians there will be an influx of unstable people and drug addicts in marriages?

    Does Regnerus ever read or listen to the news?

    None of these arguments or premises make any sense. They are so completely incoherent it appears that those who are unstable would be more attracted to them.

    What rocks do people like Regnerus crawl up from under…when we have the answer to that question we can then decide how to get rid of those rocks.

  • concernedcitizen

    ” that gay people should not be allowed to get married because they’re too promiscuous.”

    Well Regernus I guess we need to call for the mandatory divorce of probably more than 50% of the heterosexual marriages given the promiscuous nature of the men and women involved prior to saying I do. And those who are continuing to do with others what they should only be doing with their significant other.

    Promiscuity has never been a reason to keep men and women from marrying, it may be reason for breaking up marriages but it is not a reason to infringe upon their legal rights to marry.

    Is Regnerus a real person, or is this just some alien from outer space here to annoy the rest of the thinking American community?

  • concernedcitizen

    “that watching pornography makes straight men support gay marriage”

    This is funny in a siblimely ignorant sort of way.

    What I have read is that too much pornography can lead to sexual addiction.

    But I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of it leading straight men to support gay marriage.

    That’s a real leap…

  • concernedcitizen

    “same-sex parents are bad for children, will be speaking this weekend at a conference sponsored by the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Geared toward college students, the annual It Takes a Family (ITAF) conference addresses issues like marriage (should be heterosexual), family (should also be heterosexual), and sex (heterosexual and should ideally not take place outside of marriage).”

    You really must wonder what Universe these people live in. Some of the worse parents I’ve seen have been heterosexuals. They raise children to hate and participate with their criminal cohorts. They use children to hide their own illicit dealings because children don’t get as strong of sentences when it comes to jail and prosecution.

    We have some of the most monstrous human beings walking the face of the Earth that are heterosexual parents and this idiot wants to tell us why all gay and lesbian couples are bad for raising children?


    I believe that good parents are going to do well regardless of whom they choose to love, but the mere fact that they are capable of loving and being a part of a healthy community is license enough to have a hand at child rearing. So many children get far less from parents these days.

  • David Cary Hart

    Ruth Institute is not really a NOM affiliate. Roback Morse is on NOM’s payroll and Ruth ceased to exist as an entity several years ago (filing a close-out with the IRS). Ruth is nothing more than a DBA for NOM Education Fund, NOM’s 501(c)3. IOW Ruth=NOM.

    Therefore, Regnerus is speaking at a NOM event.

    BTW, you missed the link to Bill Keller’s piece in the Times:

    “Regnerus, when I talked to him, conceded that his study compared apples and oranges, because “I didn’t have oranges.” He was unable to articulate what bearing his study had on gay marriage except that it “paints the reality of people’s lives as fairly complicated.”

  • Gregory

    and has claimed that marriage equality will allow mentally unstable people, drug addicts, and people who aren’t really sure they’re gay to get married

    And that is different from hetero-marriage how?

  • Erika

    mentally unstable people and drug addicts (as well as gay people who are in the closet) are already engaging in hetereosexual marriage.

    and one wonders how much of that sinful premarital sex takes place at their annual conference for college students being told that premarital sex is wrong. And what sort of college student actually wants to go to an anti-sex conference??? The same students who are being forced by their parents to go to Bob Jones University or Liberty University???

    But of course, many of the most vocally Christian who most loudly seek to control everyone else’s morality turn out to be the most sleaziest people around.

  • Aron

    I wasn’t aware drug addicts and the mentally unstable were not allowed to marry.

    Maybe that explains why Rush Limbaugh never married.

    Oh, wait. I was wrong. Five times over. Damn!