If you want to know how University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus’s summer has gone, look no further than The Weekly Standard. On the cover of the conservative magazine’s July 30 issue are two hooded henchmen impishly turning the gears on a medieval torture wheel holding Regnerus, sweating beads as he tries to stay in one piece. The cover copy—”Revenge of the Sociologists: The perils of politically incorrect academic research”—hints at the situation sparked by the publication of Regnerus’s newest research as well as the broader political discourse over same-sex marriage.
The survey, known as the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), is remarkable in its scope. It’s a random national sample, considered “the gold standard” of social science surveys. NFSS measures the economic, relational, political, and psychological effects on adults ages 18 to 39 who grew up in families where the father or mother engaged in homosexual behavior. Despite Regnerus’s repeated caution that the NFSS does not account for stable same-sex marriages (since same-sex marriage as such didn’t exist when the survey participants were children), he has undergone professional censure. Social Science Research conducted an internal audit on the peer-review process of the NFSS, and the University of Texas at Austin investigated Regnerus following allegations of “scientific misconduct.” (The school has since cleared Regnerus of the allegations.)
Regnerus agreed to an e-mail interview with Christianity Today associate editor Katelyn Beaty to set the record straight on the NFSS and its many discontents.