The Corner

In Which Corvino and I Duke It Out over the New Regnerus Study

Professor John Corvino is sticking with his critique of the New Family Structures Survey; his version has gotten wide play around the Internet as the funniest critique. In trying to flesh out the study’s definition of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” he posited these four examples:

A heterosexually married female prostitute who on rare occasion services women

A never-married straight male prison inmate who sometimes seeks sexual release with other male inmates

A woman who comes out of the closet, divorces her husband, and has a same-sex relationship at age 55, after her children are grown

Ted Haggard, the disgraced evangelical pastor who was caught having drug-fueled trysts with a male prostitute over a period of several years

He admits that the third example would not be included in the lesbian-mom category. But he continues to be wrong about the other three.

The study first identified adult children who said they lived with both parents from birth. If their parents were married, they were put in the intact biological married family category. If the adult child reported his mom remained married to his dad his entire childhood, then whether or not his mom is a female prostitute who swings both ways, this adult child would be counted as having grown up in an intact biological married family. Ted Haggard’s children would also be counted in this pool. Now, if an adult child reported his dad in prison was having “same-sex romances,” then that adult child could conceivably be put in the pool of children with gay fathers. It seems unlikely to me that a child would view his or her parent’s sexual liaisons in prison that way, but it is conceivable.

You can go read the survey instrument yourself. Professor Regnerus has been unusually open and transparent about how the study was conducted and the full dataset will be released in the fall for other scholars to use for their own analyses.

The larger point is that, yes, this study has limitations. It cannot tell us how children fare when they are raised from birth by two lesbian moms or two gay dads. Not because the author intentionally designed the study to fail, but because these family structures are apparently so rare that they barely turned up in the data.

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