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READ IT HERE: Mark Regnerus’ testimony in DeBoer v. Snyder

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

The transcripts for the days that Mark Regnerus testified in the Michigan marriage equality trial have now become available. Thanks to Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files, we have the Scribd filings.

The first part is here:

Day 5 Part 2 (of 2) Monday March 3 by Equality Case Files

The second part is here:

Day 6 Part 1 (of 3) Tuesday March 4 by Equality Case Files

The third part is here:

Day 6 Part 2 (of 3) Tuesday March 4 by Equality Case Files

For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. Bose_in_SP_MN  |  March 13, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Reading the cross examination, it still floors me that a sociologist is concluding not just that outcomes of some family structures are worth studying to understand differences, but that the difference brought by same-sex couples should be treated distinctly from all of the other structures (adoptive, step, donor egg/sperm) in hetero-headed families. He's vacillates between being "not a fan" or having no opinion about whether the hetero structures and influences (race, income, second marriages) should be privileged, but when the same stuff occurs in same-sex families, he's suddenly clear about disadvantaging some existing families.

  • 2. Craig Nelson  |  March 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Yes it's quite interesting that with one group there's an attitude of 'we can't be sure how it's going to work out until we have extensive evidence of the base case and until then we should proceed cautiously' whereas across income, criminal past, biracial couples, adoption IVF there's no such concern (we mustn't allow IVF until we have solid evidence about outcomes; we must outlaw biracial couples until they can prove there are no less favourable outcomes). I think a similar thing was tried in Loving. The whole thing is ridiculous and of course directly harmful to the children being raised by same sex couples who, in this version of sociology adrift from ethical moorings, are turned into guinea pigs to test out Regnerus' pet theories.

  • 3. Bose_in_SP_MN  |  March 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    "…adrift from ethical moorings…" Yes, exactly.

    The foundation of sociology must be empirical examination of how things work for people and communities. But its overriding purpose is to shed light on possible paths to making things better for people. So, if divorce can be shown to make things more difficult for the kids involved, the data can show us that accommodations amidst parental conflict may be better than splitting up. And, the data can tell us that kids will do better with good cooperation between divorced parents.

    But Regnerus can barely admit the possibility that kids of stable same-sex parents may have similar outcomes to those with hetero parents. Maybe. Someday. In the meantime, he has no interest in the possibility that children of DeBoer and Rowse will have more stability with two legal parents. And if differences are identified for our kids, he has no interest in identifying how we as parents can minimize them. Those kids — the kids who exist today — don't matter to him because their lives can be made better with accurate data. They matter to him because they need to be stigmatized and disadvantaged unless and until the data say their parents were OK all along.

  • 4. Background Gal  |  March 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    My read is he thinks we need to discriminate until we find a good reason to discriminate, and that may take a long time.

  • 5. grod  |  March 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Bose: author (2 books and 31 articles- some peer reviewed) peer reviewer (120 submissions), tenured professor since 2007; presenter (50+) Fellow, researcher, PhD sociologist with particular interest in the Family, spouse and parent. With the depth and range of experience I thought Mark would have been a better communicator of useful, objective information related to family matters. But having weathered attacks on his opinions, perhaps its best that he had few quotable ones: Marriage contributes to the stability of families and well-being of its members. I also learnt that its much too soon for a sociologist to tell whether that observation would apply to gay and lesbian married spouses and their children. Perhaps when all states have ME, Mark will be undertaking a longitudinal comparative study to determine on high school graduation which kids had stable upbringings. Oh, I forgot doing such a study would cost too much! In the meantime, Mark go home and read the transcript while asking yourself whether your testimony enhanced the credibility of your 'applied' discipline. Without doing a survey, I'd say "my opinion is No".

  • 6. JayJonson  |  March 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Possibly related. I just read a blog at congratulating Judith Levy on her confirmation by the Senate as a Judge on the federal District Court for Eastern Michigan, the same district that Judge Friedman, who presided over the DeBoer case. I was struck by the fact that Levy clerked for Judge Friedman. Levy is an open lesbian with three children. I am always glad to know that judges actually have some connection with gay people. I hope that this connection with Levy will influence his assessment of the absurd testimony offered by Regnerus and Allen in the case. Here is an url for the blog:

  • 7. Zack12  |  March 13, 2014 at 11:04 am
    Looks like South Dakota will have a lawsuit soon.

  • 8. Fr. Bill  |  March 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I believe the first time Regnerus' study was cited in a ME case was Jackson v. Abercrombie, the Hawaii case that seems somewhat in limbo in the 9th Circuit. Federal District Court Judge Alan Cooke Kay (now retired) denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment citing not only Regnerus' work but also the Baker decision. Interestingly it seems previous items that came up on a Google search a while ago have since been scrubbed.

  • 9. KarlS  |  March 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I think I have a pretty decent vocabulary but the only adjective that springs to mind about this transcript is just "bizarre". "Absurd" and "idiotic" don't even come close.

  • 10. etseq97  |  March 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I'm curious as to why Plaintiff's counsel didn't impeach more of his statements, especially those where he claimed he had no opinion, with some of his more inflammatory extra-academic musings (and more explicitly pro-Roman Catholic Natural law). For example, he actually does think that legalizing SSM will harm children because it will somehow make straight men cheat more and straight women more promiscuous because they will both emulate those slutty gay men that he seems to be fixated on. Even worse in his fevered imagination is the effect lesbian parents will have on their kids – they apparently will make them "asexual"! These parade of horribles rely on some extremely supernatural, non-scientific assumptions about reality and human nature. In many ways, his approach to "science" is similar to the Intelligent Design movement, who reject methodological naturalism in favor of a "god of the gaps" epistemology that is completely anti-antithetical to the scientific method. He is also heavily influenced by the same extremely reductionist statistical methodology that pervades neo-classical economics – Becker's economic family model crossed with a bastardized form of Baumeister's Evolutionary Psychology – that attempts to explain complex human behavior by non-experimental simplistic econometric models (Freakonomics popularized this flawed approach). Scholars dubbed this trend "economic imperialism" over 2 decades ago and it has been used by right wing think tanks to make dubious claims about abortion and gun control, to name a few, that have long been discredited.
    I haven't read through all the transcripts but I know in the deportations, the economists that testified all shared the same worldview in which economic is the only true "science" of the social sciences and that therefore they can make definitive claims about almost any subject that they purport to model. I'm not sure if it would have mattered by I wish the plaintiff's attorney would have called an expert in scientific methodology that could have debunked alot of the non-sense claims that the economists were making about science and its methods.

  • 11. JayJonson  |  March 16, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for such a learned note. I was also wishing that the cross-examiner had impeached more of Regnerus's testimony. Now I wish you were cross-examining Regnerus and Allen as well.

  • 12. Keith  |  March 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    A group of same-sex couples in Arizona filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to challenge the state’s ban on gay marriage, arguing that it violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, court documents showed. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix by seven same-sex couples and two people whose same-sex partners had died, was the latest of a series of legal actions across the nation challenging such state bans.

  • 13. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  March 14, 2014 at 6:51 am

    […] USA, Michigan: Equality on Trial has the transcripts of Mark Regnerus’s testimony in the marriage equality trial. full story […]

  • 14. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  March 14, 2014 at 7:23 am

    […] USA, Michigan: Equality on Trial has the transcripts of Mark Regnerus’s testimony in the marriage equality trial. full story […]

  • 15. Dr. Z  |  March 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Working my way thru the Regnerus transcripts, and a couple of thoughts occurred to me.

    1. Regnerus is really obsessed with biological kinship, to a greater extent than I would expect. Since he has no qualms about nosing around in other people's families, what do we know about his own? (In qualitative social science research this process of self-examination is important to understand what prior personal history the researcher is bringing to the table.) Is Regnerus adopted, I wonder? Or maybe he has nagging doubts about the identity of his father? Something is driving this guy to say that nature trumps nurture, and it's not just religion.

    2. There have been published studies suggesting that gay men are more likely to provide assistance and mentoring to nieces and nephews than they are to unrelated children. If Regnerus is closeted so deeply that he's not even out to himself, could that explain his obsession that blood kinship is very important to raising children? That he may be projecting his own innate value system that blood is thicker than water where kids are concerned?

    In case the right wing gets offended by these questions, they're no more offensive than the vitriol they're spewing at the children of same sex marriages.

  • 16. Sagesse  |  March 16, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I'm also working my way through the transcript. My observations so far, in no particular order:

    The Daubert motion, though denied, is on the court record, so all the valid criticisms of Regnerus's study and the ethical complications of its funding and publication are there for the judge to consider, in addition to his deposition and his testimony under direct and cross examination.

    His focus on 'diminished kinship' cuts two ways, and although it hasn't been aggressively challenged, to me, anyway, the #LogicFail leaps off the page. There are many, many family structures characterized by 'diminished kinship' relationships, and many, many children being raised in those situations, who are being raised by heterosexual parents. The state accepts/legally permits/does not legally interfere with the raising of children by single parents, step parents, adoptive parents and parents who have used surrogates or other ART (assisted reproductive technology). Any of these heterosexual parents are permitted to marry, or not, as they choose.

    And yet, the state, or the voters representing the state, could rationally believe that excluding same-sex couples, and only same sex couples, from marriage (or any form of relationship recognitiion) is vitally important to encouraging/promoting/protecting marriage, procreation and the raising of children by their married biological parents… in the tenuous belief that this is some form of 'gold standard' relationship.

    Full disclosure: I am a language nut. The correct, professional use of the English language by an academic acting as an expert witness, or in any other professional capacity is an essential skill. Regnerus is an embarrassment to his profession and to the University of Texas, Austin every time he opens his mouth. His sentences are peppered with phrases like 'Right?' or 'sort of'. It's cringe-inducing.

    Renerus also seems to have failed Witness Prep 101. For example, he referred to the funders of his study, the Witherspoon Institute and the Becket Fund, as 'conservative' organizations, without being asked.

    His feigned innocence does him no credit. 'The deadline was mine… Witherspoon didn't influence me… wasn't aware of the court cases.' 'Some legislators in Hawaii asked to speak to me….' 'I received an email about talking points from the Heritage Foundation, but I don't recall reading it'. 'I met with some people at a hotel and we talked about doing a study….' No mention that he meeting took place at a Heritage Foundation conference, or that the people he met with included Luis Tellez of NOM and the Witherspoon Institute and Maggie Gallagher, a founder of NOM.

    The State of Michigan should ask for its money back.

  • 17. JayJonson  |  March 17, 2014 at 6:46 am

    RE the Daubert motion: Judge Friedman may do what Judge Walker did in the case of David Blankenhorn. He allowed Blankenhorn to testify, but then dismissed his "expertise" in the opinion and said that he was no expert, just someone who had opinions.

  • 18. davep  |  March 16, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I really enjoyed the lengthy back-&-forth section in the cross exam where he was asked about various types of 'non-ideal' family situations (low income couples, uneducated couples, etc.) and whether he thought these couples should be denied civil marriage. At first, he concedes that he does not believe that these couples should be denied marriage…and then when it's becoming apparent that this means his objection to same sex marriage on that supposed basis of 'non-ideal' is hypocritical, he tried to dodge further questions about similar example couples by saying he 'has no strong opinion'. The lawyer presses further with 'do you have ANY opinion?' and he then claims he has none. Then he tries that again when asked about the 'non-ideal' couples who were previously divorced since those couples have a higher rate of additional divorce & 'instability'…. So he would have 'no opinion' about the state of Michigan enacting a law to deny previously married couples from remarrying?? What an idiot.

  • 19. Sagesse  |  March 17, 2014 at 4:05 am

    I also liked the part where he was surprised at the negative reaction. There were 200 signatures on the letter organized by Gary Gates, but only a few of them were 'family demographers'. Darren Sherkat, who did the audit of the peer review and publication process, doesn't like me. I kept waiting for 'the dog ate my homework'.

  • 20. davep  |  March 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    ….. and then on page 75, where he states that his religious beliefs dictate that he believes marriage should only be 1man1woman, and then just blurts out that his religious views 'do not really shape how he goes about doing his social science', without being asked that question…. only to then be immediately confronted by his own words from his Alumni Profile in which he complains that some Christian professors have "a disconnect between their faith and the profession", and then he states "I believe that if your faith matters it should inform what you teach and what you research", and "my world view colors what I do in the classroom". Ooops. Busted.

  • 21. Susan Horowitz  |  March 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Having had the opportunity to attend 8 of the 9 days of testimony … Regnerus (the supposed star for the state) was the weakest of all the state's witnesses. He was uncomfortable on the stand and barely projected his voice for much of his testimony. I would not be surprised if he was never used again as an "expert witness,"
    It was revealing that the state barely mentioned his name in closing arguments. Of course they could not have planned that Regnerus' own sociology department and school would issue a press release while he was on the stand – distancing themselves from him. When pressed by Plaintiffs attorney for a response to the press release Regnerus simply shrugged saying it was "Regrettable"
    For any reasonable person sitting in the courtroom Plaintiffs expert witness testimony was compelling — exceptional in its scope — it is a must read … and it did impeach much of the testimony by all the state's witnesses.
    We should hear any moment here in Michigan and from all I saw firsthand … it is a slam dunk.
    I will be interested to see how much of the states expert testimony is condemned in the written opinion…Of course our right wing attorney general will appeal but its a long awaited verdict condemning the 2004 ban… waiting

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