Karen Ocamb

Cal State Professor Supports Controversial Gay Parents 'Study'

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 14, 2012 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay parenting, Mark Regnerus, NOM, Robert Oscar Lopez

Robert-Oscar-Lopez-.jpgPerhaps you know Cal State Northridge bisexual professor Robert Oscar Lopez - and hence might understand why he wants to cozy up to the antigay National Organization for Marriage. He says in this essay posted on the NOM-affiliated Witherspoon Institute that, "Frightened and traumatized by my mother's death, I dropped out of college in 1990 and fell in with what can only be called the gay underworld. Terrible things happened to me there." Well, I don't know what the "gay underworld" was - but that time was sure hell - thanks to Sen. Jesse Helms and others - if you were LGBT, HIV positive, or a person of color.

Lopez explains why he is a conservative, which oddly doesn't sound much like the conservative principles espoused by the equality-loving gay conservative Log Cabin Republicans:

I moved to the right wing because I lived in precisely the kind of anti-normative, marginalized, and oppressed identity environment that the left celebrates: I am a bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult. I'm perceptive enough to notice that liberal social policies don't actually help people in those conditions. Especially damning is the liberal attitude that we shouldn't be judgmental about sex. In the Bronx gay world, I cleaned out enough apartments of men who'd died of AIDS to understand that resistance to sexual temptation is central to any kind of humane society. Sex can be hurtful not only because of infectious diseases but also because it leaves us vulnerable and more likely to cling to people who don't love us, mourn those who leave us, and not know how to escape those who need us but whom we don't love. The left understands none of that. That's why I am conservative.

But being conservative is one thing. Flying in the face of science and the academic community - as Lopez does here in supporting Mark Regnerus's controversial "study" on gay parents - is quite another. In a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Controversial Gay-Parenting Study Is Severely Flawed, Journal's Audit Finds," author Tom Barlett writes:

The peer-review process failed to identify significant, disqualifying problems with a controversial and widely publicized study that seemed to raise doubts about the parenting abilities of gay couples, according to an internal audit scheduled to appear in the November issue of the journal, Social Science Research, that published the study.

The highly critical audit, a draft of which was provided to The Chronicle by the journal's editor, also cites conflicts of interest among the reviewers, and states that "scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process."

But Lopez also complains about the lack of support for bisexuals within the LGBT community. He's got a point there. But is it a logical reaction then to give aide and comfort to NOM? Here's a long excerpt from Lopez's piece "Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children's View" supporting Regnerus, with whom Lopez has apparently struck up an email relationship.

When I got to college, I set off everyone's "gaydar" and the campus LGBT group quickly descended upon me to tell me it was 100-percent certain I must be a homosexual. When I came out as bisexual, they told everyone I was lying and just wasn't ready to come out of the closet as gay yet. Frightened and traumatized by my mother's death, I dropped out of college in 1990 and fell in with what can only be called the gay underworld. Terrible things happened to me there.

It was not until I was twenty-eight that I suddenly found myself in a relationship with a woman, through coincidences that shocked everyone who knew me and surprised even myself. I call myself bisexual because it would take several novels to explain how I ended up "straight" after almost thirty years as a gay man. I don't feel like dealing with gay activists skewering me the way they go on search-and-destroy missions against ex-gays, "closet cases," or "homocons."

Though I have a biography particularly relevant to gay issues, the first person who contacted me to thank me for sharing my perspective on LGBT issues was Mark Regnerus, in an email dated July 17, 2012. I was not part of his massive survey, but he noticed a comment I'd left on a website about it and took the initiative to begin an email correspondence.

Forty-one years I'd lived, and nobody - least of all gay activists - had wanted me to speak honestly about the complicated gay threads of my life. If for no other reason than this, Mark Regnerus deserves tremendous credit - and the gay community ought to be crediting him rather than trying to silence him.

Regnerus's study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda. Yet the results are backed up by an important thing in life called common sense: Growing up different from other people is difficult and the difficulties raise the risk that children will develop maladjustments or self-medicate with alcohol and other dangerous behaviors. Each of those 248 is a human story, no doubt with many complexities.

Like my story, these 248 people's stories deserve to be told. The gay movement is doing everything it can to make sure that nobody hears them. But I care more about the stories than the numbers (especially as an English professor), and Regnerus stumbled unwittingly on a narrative treasure chest.

So why the code of silence from LGBT leaders? I can only speculate from where I'm sitting. I cherish my mother's memory, but I don't mince words when talking about how hard it was to grow up in a gay household. Earlier studies examined children still living with their gay parents, so the kids were not at liberty to speak, governed as all children are by filial piety, guilt, and fear of losing their allowances. For trying to speak honestly, I've been squelched, literally, for decades.

The latest attempt at trying to silence stories (and data) such as mine comes from Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who gave an interview to Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he said - and I quote - that Mark Regnerus's study was "bullshit." Bartlett's article continues:

Among the problems Sherkat identified is the paper's definition of "lesbian mothers" and "gay fathers" - an aspect that has been the focus of much of the public criticism. A woman could be identified as a "lesbian mother" in the study if she had had a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the brevity of that relationship and whether or not the two women raised the child as a couple.

Sherkat said that fact alone in the paper should have "disqualified it immediately" from being considered for publication.

The problem with Sherkat's disqualification of Regnerus's work is a manifold chicken-and-egg conundrum. Though Sherkat uses the term "LGBT" in the same interview with Bartlett, he privileges that L and G and discriminates severely against the B, bisexuals.

(Cal State professor Robert Oscar Lope Photo via Cal State)


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.