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Regnerus Anti-Gay Scandal: Open Letter to Editor James Wright

Mark Regnerus- hired by the anti-gay groups to do a "scientific" hit piece.

Mark Regnerus- hired by the anti-gay groups to do a “scientific” hit piece.

Dr. Wright:

This is to request your prompt responses to the below, regarding your publication of the Regnerus/Marks packages in the July and November, 2012 print issues of Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research.

In all candor, your attempts to hide your editorial misconduct in association with the Marks and Regnerus papers antedates the publication of your November, 2012 editor’s letter. It is not acceptable that you have not acknowledged your improprieties, apologized for them and taken appropriate steps to correct them.


Dr. Philip Cohen of the University of Maryland has written: “Taking for granted the unethical behavior of Regnerus, and Brad Wilcox, on whose behalf Regnerus acted, the real failure here is by Wright. Instead of seriously reviewing the paper, he essentially whispered into an echo chamber of backers and consultants, “We should publish this, right?”

Among the reasons Dr. Cohen gives for supporting retraction of the Regnerus paper is that “the author lied in the paper about the involvement of the institute that funded it.”

I first reported to you in August, 2012 my discovery that your editorial board member W. Bradford Wilcox, acting as a Regnerus funding agency representative, had been involved in study design. Instead of acknowledging that fact, you went ahead and re-published Regnerus’s same lie about it in his follow-up piece in your November issue.

Your behavior in doing so violated Section 2.1 of the Committee on Publication Ethic’s Code of Conduct for Journal Editors that calls for complete disclosure of a funder’s involvement in a study and its publication.

Instead of answering calls for you to comply with COPE’s Code of Conduct by making full disclosure of Wilcox’s role in the study and its publication, you have left it to investigators to discover that in August, 2012, before the data for the New Family Structures Study had been collected, Wilcox and Regnerus traveled at Witherspoon’s expense to Colorado where they spent a full day discussing NFSS promotions with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, who frequently has said that homosexuality is “A particularly evil lie of Satan.”

Despite that, you permitted Wilcox to peer review the Regnerus submission.

As Dr. Cohen noted, another reason he is calling for retraction of the Regnerus paper is that
“the peer review process was compromised by conflicts of interest. As long as this remains uncorrected, and James Wright remains editor, the integrity of the journal is indelibly tarnished.”

I therefore call on you to collaborate now with your editorial board member Brad Wilcox to make immediate full disclosure of his role in the study and its publication. Note that Wilcox’s programs at the University of Virginia receive financial support from Regnerus’s main funder, The Witherspoon Institute.

The full disclosure I call on you to make includes all communications that Wilcox, as well as any other person connected with Witherspoon and/or The Bradley Foundation had with you about the Marks/Regnerus papers prior to and after their being submitted.


My investigations show that whereas the combined Marks and Regnerus papers purported to overturn the scientific consensus on gay parenting, you failed to include any LGBT-sciences trained and experienced scholars among those peer reviewing the papers.

The Marks paper has an especially egregious background history. At the time Dr. Marks submitted his paper to you, he had just recently humiliated himself as an alleged “expert witness” in the Proposition 8 trial in California. Under cross-examination concerning his written testimony provided to the court, Marks confessed that he had cherry-picked information from studies he had not read – in order to persuade the court to find against gay rights. Marks also confessed that he was not trained in LGBT-sciences. Trial transcripts show that prior to humiliating himself, Marks had planned to submit to the court a gay parenting literature review. You then published that anti-gay-rights charlatan’s balderdash under the false guise that it had gone through appropriate professional peer review.

As the Marks and Regnerus papers are being used around the world in tandem as anti-gay cudgels, and as neither are scientifically valid, I call on you to retract both, and to apologize for your editorial misconduct.


I repeat my call for you to explain why you rejected Dr. Gary Gates’s essay “An Illegitimate Review Process” for publication in your November, 2012 issue.

In that same November issue, you published a bogus attempted methodological defense of the Regnerus paper from Walter Schumm. Schumm was an NFSS consultant, which was not disclosed. The Schumm paper was not peer reviewed, yet you labeled it as an “Original Research Article.” When Schumm was an “expert witness” in a gay rights case in Florida, Judge Cindy S. Lederman noted Schumm’s “objection to allowing homosexuals in the military due to the ease with which they can have oral sex and his belief that, since homosexuals violate one social norm, they are likely to also violate military rules.” Judge Lederman further noted that Schumm had said “With respect to the integration of faith and research, I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture.”

I call on you to apologize to the LGBT community and its allies worldwide for publishing the Schumm paper in support of the Regnerus paper.


Scott Rose



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