Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"The Regnerus Study"--Continuing Fallout

For those paying attention to issues of same-sex marriage cultural wars, one might recall a 2012 study published in the respected journal, Social Science Research, by Mark Regnerus, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?" Despite its credible origins, the study has been widely criticized, and the journal even took the largely unprecedented step of subsequently publishing a series of scathing reactions to the article, in addition to an internal self-audit of the review process of that article--those can be found in the November 2012 issue of SSR.
Drama around the paper has continued. Not only have numerous anti-gay groups cited the study in support of their causes, but Regnerus himself has been advocating for anti-gay legislation using the findings from his study, including a proposed Russian law that would remove children from the homes of same-sex couples. This, despite the fact that Regnerus himself later admitted flaws in his study. The American Sociological Association, the primary national organization for sociologists, have themselves filed a formal critique of the study, and submitted Amicus briefs to that effect.
Part of the controversy is that there may have been a conflict of interest in the reviewers chosen by the editor of SSR. John Becker, editor-in-chief of the Bilerico Project, filed suit November 2013 to obtain documents related to the process SSR used to vet the Regnerus study. Becker's likely goal is to determine if evidence suggests improper conduct on the part of the editorial or research staff--claims that have been lodged against the journal and researchers. Becker has already posted many documents to which he had previously gained access. As is explained in another section of this same site, the study appears to have been specifically funded by an issue-driven anti-gay group, with close to a million dollars invested by the Witherspoon Institute, and similar groups.
As documented above, the suit is against the University of Central Florida, where the editor of SSR is faculty, sociologist James Wright. The university has hired a legal team, headed by a former Florida Supreme Court justice, to prevent the documents from being released, and have thrown up numerous stalling barriers to the process. As of today, the case is still pending--just yesterday (2/10/2014) the court issued an "order to show cause." You can find an updated docket for this case at Florida's 5th Circuit Court.
Update, 3/10/14
Last week (3/3/14) the court updated the docket to the status of "jurisdiction relinquished." A call to the court clarified that it was sent back to the lower court for them to clarify their ruling. They have 45 days, or until approximately April 17th, to comply with the request. The court filing can be found here: CASE NO.: 2013-CA-5265-O.

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