News & Politics

Controversial Sociologist Who Claims Gay Parents Harm Children Testifies at Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Trial

University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, whose work has been widely disputed by his peers, says that's it's prudent for Michigan to retain its ban on gay marriage.

Photo Credit: Ludovic Bertron/Wikimedia Commons

As a rare trial on gay marriage continues in the state of Michigan, a controversial academic testified on Monday and defended his work claiming that children raised by gay parents are more likely to have problems.

The academic, a sociologist from the University of Texas named Mark Regnerus, noted that it was too early to make sweeping conclusions about children growing up in homes run by gay parents.  But he defended his work on the issue, saying that “it's prudent for the state to retain its definition of marriage to one man, one woman,” as the Associated Press reported.

Regnerus’ study has become a frequently cited piece of work by gay marriage opponents.  His study says that children who grew up in a same-sex relationship are more likely to have problems such as welfare dependence, marijuana use and less education.  His study drew fierce pushback.

The University of Texas opened an investigation into his work.  And the American Psychological Association has stated that there’s no scientific basis for determining that gay and lesbian parents are unfit because they are gay. Regnerus is set to be cross-examined in court today.

The trial he testified for is about the case of Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a lesbian couple.  They filed suit against Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.  The state claims that the ban on gay marriage is not meant to attack gays, and that voters who approved the ban made a rational decision to “encourage traditional marriage.”

Together, they have adopted three children.  But if one of them were to die, the other would not get automatic custody.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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