Discovery News captured some of the opposing views about the study and how it could be used politically in its analysis, which lambasted the research. "Regnerus himself told LiveScience that he doesn't believe his study speaks to the politics of same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, the research has been cast in that light, showing up in a New York Times op-ed piece by Ross Douthat suggesting that the article is a case for caution in legalizing gay unions. By the same token, Slate writer William Saletan argued that the research makes a case for gay marriage in order to promote stable same-sex relationships for the sake of the children.
"Scientists, however, say that both uses of the research reach too far, given the fuzzy definition of same-sex parenting in the survey."
"I don't think it's the kind of study to lead you to any policy position, frankly," Judith Stacey, a sociologist at New York University who was not involved in the research, told LifeScience.
One of the research critics is Jim Burroway, in the Box Turtle Bulletin. He also dislikes Regnerus' research methodology. "When you look at the data, the study’s real findings become obvious. Children of parents who have had a same-sex relationship — a group that includes very large numbers of children of divorced parents, single parents, adopted parents, step-parents and “other” family structures — have developmental outcomes which are remarkably similar to children of divorced, single, adopted, step-, and 'other' family structures overall when compared to intact, non-adoptive heterosexual families."
That has been one of the issues critics, including Marks, have noted with the previous research that found children fare as well or even better in same-sex families as in intact biological families. The small, convenience samples have not compared same-sex parent families directly with intact biological families to reach their conclusions and they've lacked numerical heft, they say.
One of the barriers, according to Burroway, is funding for large population-based research. It's too expensive. But he also criticized the funding that made possible Regnerus' larger-scale research. The study was funded by what he refers to as "two conservative-leaning foundations, Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation."
Regnerus said they had no control over the study design, interpretation or conclusions.
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