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How much was NOM involved in creation and pushing of anti-gay parenting study?

Maggie Gallagher of NOM

A new article in The Huffington Post raises more questions regarding that recent study claiming that children in homes with gay parents have more negative outcomes than those with heterosexual parents.

The study, created by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus, has caused a lot of controversy because of questions regarding its methodology. In addition, Regnerus has said repeatedly that the study does not establish a relation between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes.

But The Huffington Post article, authored by Andy Birkey of The American Independent, not only looks at those involved in the study’s creation and promoting, but also makes the claim that the study’s creation and usage may have been a part of an internal plan by the anti-gay group, The National Organization for Marriage:

The use of Regnerus’ study by NOM and its allies aligns closely with the organization’s 2009 internal strategy documents that were released in court filings earlier this year.

NOM outlined what it called its “Expert Witness Project,” an effort to “identify and nurture a worldwide community of highly credentialed intellectuals and professional scholars, physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, and writers to credential our concerns and to interrupt the silencing that takes place in the academy around gay marriage and related family issues.” According to NOM, “Marriage as the union of husband and wife has deep grounding in human nature, and is supported by serious social science.”

This is the same infamous internal strategy documents which got NOM into trouble because in it, the organization talked about plans of playing the African-American and gay community against one another on the subject of marriage equality.

When it comes to Regnerus’s study, several other things Birkey points out should raise eyebrows as to how close those involved with NOM was also involved with funding and promoting the study:

The study was funded by the Witherspoon Institute with a grant totaling $695,000. The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank founded by prominent Catholic intellectuals Luis Tellez and Robert George. George, a professor at Princeton University, also sits on the board of the Bradley Foundation, which gave Regnerus another $90,000 for the study.

Groups closely connected to the Witherspoon Institute and Bradley Foundation touted the study last week as evidence that gay parenting poses risks for children, and that intact, opposite-sex couples make the best parents.

The National Organization for Marriage, which was co-founded by George and shares several board members with the Witherspoon Institute, devoted five blog posts to the study the week it was released. NOM reprinted part of an article from the conservative Washington Times on the study as well as an article by NOM’s other co-founder, Maggie Gallagher.

NOM blogged about an article and an editorial on the study published by the Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. George serves on that paper’s “editorial advisory board.”

Then he points out how statewide groups affiliated with NOM are conveniently using the study:

Minnesota for Marriage, a group campaigning for a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, said the study showed “risks” to children of same-sex couples.

“New study suggests risks from same-sex parenting. ‘…empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,'” the group said on Twitter.

And on Facebook, the group wrote, “New, highly respected, rigorous study shows that ‘the empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go.'”

Preserve Marriage Washington, a group working to repeal Washington’s recent law making same-sex marriage legal, took to Facebook to promote the study.

“Kids are in no way better off,” Protect Marriage Washington wrote. “A new study on same-sex parenting by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas was released yesterday.”

On Facebook, Protect Marriage Maine — which is opposing a ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage — posted an infographic created by the Washington Times along with a quote from Regnerus. NOM has close ties to all three of these state groups.

Birkey also points out how Gallagher of NOM and other groups associated with the organization have pushing the study:

Gallagher has been especially active in promoting the study, writing three posts about it on the website of the conservative National Review.  She penned a column for the conservative Town Hall under the headline, “The Gay Murphy Brown Effect.”

Gallagher’s Culture War Victory Fund, which was incubated at the American Principles Project, a group founded by Robert George in 2009, promoted the same articles that NOM did on its blog.

Another NOM-connected group, the Love and Fidelity Network, also promoted the study.

The Love and Fidelity Network shares an office with the Witherspoon Institute. Gallagher and George, the founders of NOM, are on the Network’s advisory board. Luis Tellez, who founded the Witherspoon Institute with George, is also on the advisory board of the Love and Fidelity Network.

For its part, the Witherspoon Institute wrote a lengthy analysis of Regnerus’ study under the headline, “The Kids Aren’t All Right: New Family Structures and the ‘No Differences’ Claim.”

The Witherspoon Institute also launched a website featuring Regnerus’ data.

Regenrus continues to say that the study’s funders had nothing to do with its outcome.

We don’t know the truth about that, one way or the other.

But what we do know is this:

  • In 2009, an organization dedicated to stopping marriage equality (NOM) creates a strategy which calls for the creation of “expert witnesses” and “research” to use against marriage equality.
  • Two years later, a study comes out funded with big bucks by conservative organizations (the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation) which has NOM’s founder and chairman emeritus (Robert George) on their boards.
  • NOM then pushes the study heavily through several posts on its blog and other publications (The National Review and Town Hall. It also funnels the study through several statewide and national organizations that it is connected with. One of these groups (The Love and Fidelity Network) just happens to share an office with the Witherspoon Foundation, one of the study’s funders.
  • Another publication which has NOM’s founder and chairman emeritus (Robert George – he is on the board of both organizations who funded the study) on its board (Deseret News) writes an article and an editorial praising the study.
  • The Witherspoon Institute – one of the study’s funders  – writes a lengthy, and positive, analysis of the study and creates a webpage about it.

Regardless of what Regnerus may say, there are too many fingers in the bowl, so to speak, for folks to take his word at face value when it comes the objectivity of his study.

More questions need to asked to and definitely answered by Regnerus and those involved with NOM.

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Alvin McEwen

Alvin McEwen