The Protocols of the Elders of the Castro

America’s religious right is marketing a new, and of course already-debunked, anti-gay study around the world, including in Russia.

It’s called the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), and is authored by Mark Regnerus. It’s the LGBT version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and it’s something every advocate, gay and straight, should be made aware of.

A little ironic background first on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

For those unaware, the Protocols is perhaps the most famous anti-Semitic tract in history. As Wikipedia notes, they’re “an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.” And although many mistakenly assume the Protocols was a piece of German propaganda, it was fabricated originally in Russia (go figure) and supposedly published around 1903 (accounts differ).

Coverpage of original Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Original Russian language version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (aka propaganda fiction)

One such account says it was produced at the behest of Pyotr Rachkovsky, then head of the Russian secret police. Much of of it was plagiarized from other sources, including works of fiction and satire. It would be like composing a book that included sections lifted wholesale from A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay in which he satirically suggests the solution to Ireland’s rampant poverty is they should eat their own children — and then go on to claim it was documentary proof the British had a raging cannibalism problem.

What is the Regnerus Study?

The Regnerus Study claims to compare and contrast outcomes for children raised in gay or lesbian-headed families as opposed to heterosexual families (both biological and adoptive). Its conclusion: Children raised by gay and lesbian families are (according to the study) significantly more prone to depression, suicide, drug abuse, getting STDs, doing lousy in school, having behavior problems in general, and being sexually abused. Oh, and growing up to be gay.

In glancing through Regenerus data and charts, it would seem to indicate lesbian mothers are especially awful at raising kids, in addition to being more likely to be on public assistance and welfare. Not to mention, experts at taking children and turning them gay.

If it wasn’t already obvious, the Regnerus Study is also a particularly odious piece of pseudo-scientific claptrap. It’s been roundly criticized for its faulty selection methodology and biased analyses. It has been thoroughly and completely discredited by the scientific community, with one auditor referring to it as “bullshi*t.

Why the Regnerus Study is “bullsh*t”

Mark Regnerus Photo

Mark Regnerus being interviewed by The Daily Texan

The “study” was conceived and designed deliberately to produce predetermined (anti-gay and trans) results and conclusions.

An example of the “study’s” bias: A parent was classified as gay or lesbian if they had just one same-sex encounter or relationship, no matter how brief, at any point from their child’s birth until age 18. One same-sex encounter in your lifetime and you’re gay.

In fact, most of the supposedly gay and lesbian families in his study were the result of failed heterosexual marriages. Only two of the families, both lesbian headed, were long-term relationships.

And none of the gay and lesbian families were stable two-parent households raising a child together from birth. Not one. In other words, the study as to how children fare with gay parents didn’t include any children actually raised full-time with gay parents. A slight omission, one might think.

From Religion Dispatches, the same article linked above, by Peter Montgomery:

(W)hen the Regnerus study compared the children of parents who at one point had a “same-sex romantic relationship,” most of whom had experienced a family dissolution or single motherhood, to children raised by two biological, married opposite-sex parents, the study stripped away all divorced, single, and step-parent families from the opposite-sex group, leaving only stable, married, opposite-sex families as the comparison.

Why the Regnerus Study matters

Why does this ridiculous and completely discredited study matter? Because it is the reason why in country after country — in Russia, in France, and throughout Africa — the notion that “gays are bad for children” is raised as the sole, or at least primary, reason for the anti-gay activist protests and for the new spate of anti-gay legislation.

Need proof? Here’s the Regnerus study being cited in a Russian language news site.

The Bilerico Project has also done some fine reporting on the international collusion between anti-gay groups, including an IDC ’roundtable’ meeting in France in July this year on the “Defense of the Family” (sic). Among the speakers at the roundtable:

Elena Mizulina

Member of the Russian Duma, Elena Mizulina — the woman who wants to take Russian children away from their gay and lesbian parents

  • Béatrice Bourges, founding member of La Manif pour Tous and president of Le Printemps Français (two of France’s leading anti-gay activist groups).
  • Luca Volontè, a former member of the Italian parliament and of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, now president of the Fondazione Novae Terrae — and ardent anti-gay activist who has often been quoted praising the French anti-gay protests.
  • Christine Boutin, former minister. Although liberal on many social issues, including the availability of condoms to help prevent the spread of HIV, she’s adamantly against same sex marriage, claiming the usual polygamy slippery slope rationale.
  • Paul-Marie Coûteaux, essayist and former member of the European Parliament, and ally of Frigide Barjot (pseudonym of Virginie Merle) and Gilbert Collard. And he’s opposed both to same-sex marriage and allowing LGBT families to adopt children.
  • Elena Mizulina, chairperson of the Family Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma — and the woman “credited” with crafting and passing Russia’s new nationwide “Don’t Ask, Don’t Say Gay, Or Into the Gulag With You” law.
  • Olga Batalina, Ms. Mizulina’s vice-chairperson, and one of the top proponents of Russia’s recently enacted ban on allowing Russian children to be adopted to parents in countries that permit same-sex marriage — even if those parents are hetero.

Dolores-UmbridgeBy the way, keep an eye on Elena Mizulina (who John calls “Russia’s Dolores Umbridge” – she’s Russia’s lead anti-LGBT parliamentarian, basically Jesse Helms with pearls). Mizulina has said, “We are looking into the possibility of creating a legal basis for taking children out of families that are de-facto gay marriages.”

If that isn’t chilling, I don’t know what is.

It should be noted that the Regnerus study was also cited in legal arguments defending DOMA, in a brief filed by the “Alliance Defending Freedom,” a far-right anti-gay lobbying group. Their website describes same-sex parenting as “dangerous for children,” and they are major proponents of anti-gay reparative therapy (the notion that you can pray away the gay). Apparently the ‘freedom’ they want to defend is to be free to oppress others based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. For the sake of the children, of course.

How America’s religious right invented the Regnerus Study

Where did this flawed, biased, homophobic study come from? And who is doing the promoting worldwide? Ah, my friends, that’s the fascinating part (hat-tip to Lez Get Real for helping to connect the dots).

The story begins with the Witherspoon Institute, a right-wing religiously-oriented think tank based in Princeton NJ, whose primary causes are opposition to abortion, stem-cell research and (you guessed it) same-sex marriage. They’re the ones who provided nearly all of the funding for the Regnerus study. They’ve also been linked to the lead anti-“gay marriage” group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and to Bill Donohue’s far-right Catholic League.

The main peer reviewer of the Regnerus study was W. Bradford Wilcox, program director at Witherspoon. (Yes, the blatant conflict of interest should’ve been obvious right from the start. However, Dr. James Wright, in charge of Elsevier’s journal, “Social Science Research,” which published this steaming pile of you-know-what, let it pass. Wright has drawn one hell of a lot of righteous flack for allowing it.)

More from Lez Get Real:

Not just incidentally, in August of 2011, before NFSS data collection occurred, Witherspoon paid for Regnerus and Wilcox to travel to Colorado, where for a full day they discussed study promotions in anti-gay-rights contexts with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, who says that homosexuality is a “particularly evil lie of Satan.”

It would appear that as early as September 2010, NOM was especially interested in the project. Actually, more than interested, in that Robert George, NOM’s founder and “chairman emeritus,” was key in conceiving and funding the study.

George arranged for the $785,000 in funding for the Regnerus study, in fact, funneling it through Witherspoon and the Bradley Foundation, where George is on the board of directors. (Hat-tip to Wayne Besen.) In one email, Mark Regnerus says to Wilcox that he’d like to learn more about “marriage equality”-hating diva Maggie Gallagher’s hopes for the project. Yep, ole Maggie had her pudgy thumbs in the pie, too.

So there we have it.

NOM’s founder arranged for Regnerus’ funding.

And W. Bradley Wilcox at Witherspoon, who funneled the bulk of the money for the project, served as the peer reviewer, an obvious conflict of interest.

Their entire goal was to create a ‘scientific’ smokescreen to support their agenda of anti-gay repression.

Gay Parents

Enemies of the state. (Gay Parents via Shutterstock)

And now, around the world, NOM and its anti-gay allies — the Catholic League, and religious right gay-haters like AFA, FRC, Focus on the Family, and so on — are lobbying governments to pass anti-gay legislation. Their go-to tool is their own home-grown “Protocols of the Elders of Castro,” the Regnerus study, fraudulently touted as peer-reviewed scientific proof that gays are dangerous to children.

When all it is, is proof that conservatives are dangerous to science.


Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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