Chicago First Ward Ald.Proco "Joe" Moreno's attempt to keep a fast-food chain out of his Northwest Side ward because the company's boss opposes gay marriage is so patently unconstitutional that it hardly merits discussion.
But ignoring this stunning assault on two First Amendment rights gives it undeserved credence. By trying to block a Chick-fil-A restaurant from locating in his ward because of company President Dan Cathy's biblical view against same-sex marriage, Moreno is subjecting the chain to an unconstitutional government test of religion. Moreno also would use the power of government to shut down Cathy's free speech rights, punishing him economically for speaking his mind.
Because his efforts to blackball Chick-fil-A have no legal basis, Moreno eventually might have to find an alternative, but equally specious, excuse to please narrow-minded constituents who think that government's business is to bushwhack selected Americans. But any attempt to justify the action by zoning, traffic or other diversions will be recognized by the courts for the deception that it is.
So, having added my two cents to Moreno's folly, let's move on to other important and controversial news about same-sex marriage: New research challenges the often-repeated claim that "study after study" proves children raised in same-sex families turn out no differently than those raised in intact, heterosexual marriages. Or even better. The problem is, those studies suffer from important weaknesses. Some sociologists have criticized the studies' methodology, including the reliance on sample sizes far too small to be meaningful. (Here and here.)
Now comes Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, with his New Families Structure study, which gathers a much larger sample of 15,000 Americans ages 18 to 39. In a Slate article, he summarized his peer-reviewed research that appeared earlier in the Social Science Research journal: On 25 of 50 different "outcomes" the study evaluated, "the children of women who've had same-sex relationships fare quite differently than those in stable, biologically intact mom-and-pop families. …
"Even after including controls for age, race, gender and things like being bullied as a youth, or the gay-friendliness of the state in which they live, such respondents were more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things."
This is a debate-changing study, especially because it challenges more recent court findings in which judges cite the "no difference evidence" as a reason for overturning laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Unsurprisingly, some of Regnerus' colleagues want to drive him out of academia on a rail. (See, "The Revenge of the Sociologists" in the Weekly Standard.) They've criticized his study for receiving sponsorship money from a conservative group, the Witherspoon Institute, and they've found some shortcomings (don't all social science studies have them?) in his methodology. The study has little to do with gay marriage, critics charge, because it's about same-sex child rearing.
Regnerus acknowledges that more study is needed (what scholar doesn't?), and he clearly outlines the steps he took to ensure the study's methodological correctness and objectivity. He doesn't claim to know the cause of the differences. Ironically, one scholar of the pro-gay persuasion who refused an invitation to participate on a panel to ensure the study's objectivity now is blasting the study for its lack of objectivity. He's leading a 200-scholar posse to demand the journal's editor explain why he dared publish such a piece and that he should collar more writers who are "sensitive" to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) parenting issues.
While Regnerus' social science credentials appear impeccable, it's just a start of academic Star Chamber proceedings against him for daring to step beyond the given wisdom. Three of his colleagues published an op-ed on The Huffington Post, charging that his "reckless" research "besmirched" the university. He is to appear before a panel of university officials that's investigating him for "scientific misconduct."
Regnerus seems stunned by the attacks, telling The Weekly Standard, "I knew it would be controversial. But this is the worst that I ever could have imagined."