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Ethics Complaint Filed In Anti-Gay Regnerus Scandal

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Mark Regnerus is an anti-gay-rights figure at the University of Texas at Austin.

The NOM-linked anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute gave Regnerus $785,000 to execute a study ostensibly, but not actually, on gay parents’ child outcomes.

The legitimate scientific community is united in concerns about the Regnerus study’s lack of intellectual integrity, and the fact that prior to publication, the study did not receive ethical and appropriate professional peer review.

Brad Wilcox is a Witherspoon Institute official. He also serves on the editorial board of the journal that published the Regnerus study, Social Science Research.

Wilcox had proven fiduciary conflicts of interest in serving as a paid Regnerus study consultant and also, apparently, as a peer reviewer of the Regnerus paper.

There follows a COMPLAINT against Brad Wilcox, filed with the American Sociological Association:

Dear Dr. Hillsman:

In this COMPLAINT, I shall make allegations against ASA member Dr. Brad Wilcox (aka W. Bradford Wilcox); Wilcox has egregiously violated the ASA’s Code of Ethics.

Wilcox is associated with:

1) The University of Virginia  (Director, The National Marriage Project; Associate Professor, Sociology)

2) The Witherspoon Institute   (Director, Program on Family, Marriage and Democracy; Editorial Board Member, Witherspoon’s “Public Discourse”)

3  Elsevier journal Social Science Research (Editorial Board Member)

These allegations relate to Wilcox’s unethical behavior involving a study by ASA member Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin; “The New Family Structures Study.”

Salient, documented facts of the matter include:

1) Wilcox’s Witherspoon Institute is the chief funder of the Regnerus study;

2) Wilcox, an editorial board member of Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study, served as both a paid Regnerus study consultant and a peer reviewer of the Regnerus study;

3) After the sociological and scientific communities united in expressing concerns about the intellectual integrity of the Regnerus study, and about the suspicious process by which it was approved for publication, Wilcox signed a letter in support of the Regnerus study, which letter was promulgated by Baylor University, and which letter contains many deliberate distortions of the scientific record

WILCOX’S SPECIFIC VIOLATIONS OF THE ASA’S CODE OF ETHICS:

1)

Number 1 of the ASA’s Code of Ethics, “Professional and Scientific Standards” says that sociologists: “rely on scientifically and professionally derived knowledge; act with honesty and integrity; and avoid untrue, deceptive, or undocumented statements in undertaking work-related functions or activities.”

Where Wilcox as I) a highly-placed official with Witherspoon, which funded the Regnerus study; II) acted as both a paid study consultant and peer reviewer of the Regnerus study for the journal Social Science Research, where he is an editorial board member, Wilcox failed to act “with honesty and integrity.” In acting as both a Regnerus study consultant and peer reviewer, Wilcox had multiple fiduciary conflicts of interest. As a paid study consultant, he had a conflict of interest in being a peer reviewer, because paid study consultants want studies for which they have consulted to be published so that their services as paid consultants will be in high demand. Moreover, the Witherspoon Institute as the chief funder of the Regnerus study is promoting it very aggressively, in anti-gay-rights political contexts, at least in part to be able to stimulate additional donations to Witherspoon; Wilcox as a paid Witherspoon official therefore had that additional fiduciary conflict of interest in acting as both a Regnerus study consultant and peer reviewer.

2) Number 1 of the ASA’s Code of Ethics, “Professional and Scientific Standards” says that sociologists: “rely on scientifically and professionally derived knowledge; act with honesty and integrity; and avoid untrue, deceptive, or undocumented statements in undertaking work-related functions or activities.”

In signing the Baylor University letter in support of the Regnerus study, Wilcox did not avoid deceptive statements, or act with honesty and integrity.

The Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion letter in support of the Regnerus study was promulgated to counter the legitimate scientific community’s expressions of concern about the intellectual integrity of the Regnerus study, which Wilcox’s anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute had funded. The Baylor letter incorporates multiple deliberate distortions of the scientific record, in a propagandizing and fraudulent attempt, scientifically to legitimate the Regnerus study to the public; an example of such a distortion will be given below.

The lead signer of the Baylor letter, Baylor ISR Director Byron Johnson, like Wilcox is an official with the Witherspoon Institute, which funded the Regnerus study. Two additional Witherspoon officials signed the Baylor letter; none of them disclosed their direct connection to the funding of the Regnerus study. Wilcox had a fiduciary conflict of interest in signing the Baylor letter and therefore should at least have disclosed that conflict of interest. The Witherspoon Institute is heavily engaged in promoting the Regnerus study and through promotions of its activities hopes to solicit and receive monetary donations to the Witherspoon Institute.

Here is but one example of the distortions of the scientific record contained in the Baylor letter. In its sixth paragraph, the Baylor letter alleges that the Regnerus study’s findings parallel findings of Daniel Potter’s paper “Same-Sex Parent Families and Children’s Academic Achievement,” which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The aim of the Baylor letter signers in alleging that the Potter study’s findings “parallel” those of the Regnerus study was this; Regnerus alleges to have proven correlation between same-sex parents and bad child outcomes; not only does the scientific community question whether Regnerus proved such correlations; it questions whether he actually studied children of “same-sex parents.” The majority of Regnerus’s test group respondents were born to and substantially raised by married couples of opposite genders; their parents therefore are their mothers and fathers; they do not have “same-sex parents,” though that term is written into the Regnerus study. The Baylor letter signers hoped to make the public believe that like Regnerus, Potter is alleging that he proved correlation between same-sex parents and bad child outcomes.

However, Potter in reality says that the differences his study found between children of same-sex parents and children of heterosexual parents are “nonsignificant net of family transitions.” The Baylor letter quotes from the very same sentence in which Potter says that the differences he found are “nonsignificant net of family transitions” but truncates the sentence, not including the phrase “nonsignificant net of family transitions,” and then the Baylor letter tacks on language clearly intended to get the public to believe that the differences Potter found were not “nonsignificant” but rather, significant.

The Baylor letter misrepresents the scientific record that is the Potter study in other ways. For example, the Baylor letter alleges that the children Potter studied had same-sex parents who “lived together.” In documented reality, however, Potter’s data came from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten cohort(ECLS – K). That data does not allow a researcher scientifically to determine whether parents of the children studied are “same-sex parents” living together.  Potter speculated that some of his study subjects’ parents might have been same-sex parents living together, on the basis of unsound methods. What is more is that even supposing that some of Potter’s study subjects’ parents were actually “same-sex parents,” the Baylor letter is demonizing of actual same-sex parents by implying that same-sex parents who live together have scientifically been proven to correlate to bad child outcomes, though Potter says that differences found are “nonsignificant net of family transitions.”  If same-sex parents truly are living together, then there are no family transitions, are there?  The Potter study did not purport to compare stable gay-headed families with stable heterosexual-headed families. But the Baylor letter made a point of telling the public that Potter’s same-sex parents lived together and correlated to bad child outcomes.

The Baylor letter verifiably does distort the scientific record in an attempt to mislead the public about the Regnerus study. On multiple counts, Wilcox violated the ASA’s Code of Ethics by signing the Baylor letter. It must be mentioned in passing that Baylor University views homosexuality in a non-scientific manner. It thus is not appropriate for a sociologist to sign his name to a letter distorting the scientific record on studies involving homosexual persons. For reference, in a New York Times article about gay students at Christian colleges, a Baylor spokesperson said “Baylor expects students not to participate in advocacy groups promoting an understanding of sexuality that is contrary to biblical teaching.” And, in November, 2011, Baylor University was criticized for hosting a special sociology course of study titled Homosexuality as a Gateway Drug.

While individual schools, and individuals, might have first amendment rights to demonize homosexuals, doing so is inconsistent with many points of the ASA’s Code of Ethics, as promulgating demonizing lies against homosexuals as a class of persons is inconsistent with scientific knowledge about homosexuality. In signing his name to a letter containing deliberate distortions of the scientific record, in favor of a study his organization The Witherspoon Institute funded and is promoting in anti-gay-rights political contexts, Wilcox should have considered what the “Baylor University” brand represents vis-a-vis scientific knowledge of homosexuality, and civilized, respectful treatment of homosexual persons.

3)Section 10 of the ASA’s Code of Ethics is titled “Public Communications.” The section is introduced with: “Sociologists adhere to the highest professional standards in public communications about their professional services, credentials and expertise, work products, or publications, whether these communications are from themselves or from others.”

This allegation involves publication of an essay by Robert Oscar Lopez about the Regnerus study on the Witherspoon Institute’s venue “Public Discourse,” where Wilcox is an editorial board member. Since shortly after the publication of the Regnerus study, Lopez had been making comments on multiple internet sites, expressing irrational prejudices against gay persons in support of the Regnerus study. Regnerus saw Lopez’s comments and contacted Lopez first, to commence a correspondence with him about the study and “LGBT issues.” Shortly thereafter, an essay by Lopez appeared on Witherspoon’s “Public Discourse.” The Lopez essay is full of harsh, negative, and sometimes ridiculous judgments and inferences against gay people. For example, Lopez, who alleges he was raised by a lesbian mother, complains that he spoke with a lisp, and that the reason for his lisp was that he did not have any male role models. More seriously, the Lopez essay contains multiple misrepresentations of what the Regnerus study says. All of those misrepresentations are skewed in the direction of inciting readers against gay rights.

Wilcox, with editorial authority over Witherspoon’s “Public Discourse,” violates the ASA’s Code of Ethics, which says that “Sociologists adhere to the highest professional standards in public communications about their . . . . publications, whether these communications are from themselves or from others.”

Furthermore, Section 3 of the ASA’s Code of Ethics, “Representation and Misuse of Expertise,” letter (d), says: “If sociologists learn of misuse or misrepresentation of their work, they take reasonable steps to correct or minimize the misuse or misrepresentation.”

The Lopez essay, with its distortions of what the Regnerus study says, is being publicized to the four corners of the earth, largely by Wilcox’s Witherspoon Institute and/or Witherspoon officials who also have authority at other anti-gay-rights organizations.  Neither Regnerus nor Wilcox have made any effort to correct Lopez’s false statements about what the Regnerus study says. Regnerus appears to have recruited Lopez for the purpose of cultivating him for promotions of the Regnerus study. Documentation should be examined to determine which Witherspoon figures were involved in processing the Lopez essay through to publication. Wilcox should have made an effort to correct to the public the very widely disseminated distortions of Regnerus made in the Lopez essay published on the Witherspoon site. But additionally, Wilcox in association with Witherspoon would have had multiple fiduciary conflicts of interest in promoting the Regnerus study through “Public Discourse,” as Wilcox served as both a paid Regnerus study consultant and a Regnerus study peer reviewer.  If Wilcox personally was directly involved in processing the Lopez essay through to publication, then he was, essentially, promoting his services as a paid study consultant. That the Lopez essay verifiably contains distortions of what the Regnerus study says, makes especially troubling that Wilcox would in any way promote his study consultant services by means of that scientifically inaccurate vehicle.

Upon request, I shall furnish further matches between Wilcox’s behavior and items listed in the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics.

Sincerely,

Scott Rose

 

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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News

Biden Channels Lincoln in Address on Trump Assassination Attempt: ‘We Are Not Enemies’

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Echoing President Abraham Lincoln‘s first inaugural address, President Joe Biden in a rare primetime Oval Office address Sunday night told Americans “we are not enemies,” as he urged the nation to tone down political rhetoric in the wake of the assassination attempt of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by a 20-year old registered Republican at an outdoor Trump rally in Pennsylvania one day earlier.

It was the third time in 24-hours President Biden spoke to Americans via a televised address about the shooting in which Trump’s ear was nicked, some reports say from shards of glass from his teleprompter, while the ex-president claimed it was from a bullet. The eight bullets from the gunman’s legally-purchased AR-15 rifle killed a 50-year old former volunteer fire chief who shielded his daughters with his body, and wounded two others.

“While we may disagree, we are not enemies. We’re neighbors, we’re friends, coworkers, citizens. And most importantly, we are fellow Americans. We must stand together,” President Biden reminded the nation, as he announced “the need to lower the temperature in our politics.”

Biden said the “shooting calls on all of us to take a step back.” Earlier, on Sunday afternoon in his nationally-televised remarks the President said, “We must unite as one nation. We must unite as one nation to demonstrate who we are.”

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In denouncing political violence, President Biden cited some of the most critical recent examples in America.

“We can not, we must not, go down this road in America. We’ve traveled it before throughout our history,” the President warned. “Violence has never been the answer, whether it was with members of congress of both parties being targeted and shot, or a violent mob attacking the capitol on January 6th, or the brutal attack on the spouse of the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, or information or intimidation on election officials, or the kidnapping plot against the sitting governor, or the attempted assassination on Donald Trump, there’s no place in America for this kind of violence, for any violence, ever. Period. No exceptions. We cannot allow this violence to be normalized,” Biden said resolutely.

“In America, we resolve our differences at the ballot box, that’s how we do it, at the ballot box, not with bullets,” the President also declared, as some on the right, including far-right wing websites, quickly mocked and attacked him for his speech impediment, claiming he had said, “battle box.”

Pointing to Biden’s “desire to protect democracy,” NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander Sunday night reminded that the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville was “really the motivating factor” for his decision to run for President in 2020.

Indeed, Biden has a strong record of fighting against political violence and hate. On Sunday he declared that in America, “hate must have no safe harbor,” which echoed his 2023 State of the Union Address in which he said: “There’s no place for political violence in America,” and, “We must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor.”

“Democracy must not be a partisan issue, it’s an American issue. Every generation of Americans has faced a moment where they have been called to protect our democracy Defend it, stand up for it. And this is our moment,” Biden had also said.

Former South Carolina Democratic Congressman Bakari Sellers judged Biden’s six-minute Sunday evening speech to be “pitch perfect. Great sharp message, tone, and leadership.”

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Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called Biden’s remarks “eloquent and sobering.”

“Biden speech was eloquent and sobering. It is the time for experienced, reassuring and mature leadership. We need to be called to follow the better angels of our nature not the darkest impulses. There is nothing more important.”

“Just watched Joe Biden’s speech. He just won the election,” announced SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah.

“President Biden used the pulpit well tonight. He did what a president should do: seek to calm the country, seek to calm each of us,” declared award-winning journalist Maria Shriver.

This is an excellent speech,” rhetoric scholar and professor of communications Jennifer Mercieca wrote. “Biden is good at what scholars call the ‘priestly role of the president,’ which is when the president is called upon to speak to a nation in crisis and remind us of our values and explain why our American values will see us through hard times.”

Even Fox News’ chief political analyst Brit Hume praised President Biden’s speech Sunday night declaring his “message was just right,” as Mediate reported.

Watch clips from the President’s remarks and his full address above or at this link.

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‘Supposed to Be Hard’: Political Experts Explain Their Thinking on Biden and the Election

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Two weeks after the political class’s response to President Joe Biden’s poor debate performance threw the 2024 election into chaos, four political experts share their thinking about where the race actually stands and what Biden’s supporters should do.

“He can’t win right!? They point to the polling right?” wrote political strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher, a frequent NBC News/MSNBC political analyst, linking to a report about the latest polls which show President Biden ahead of Donald Trump. “Well this is the 2nd poll (credible poll) in 2 days showing the Pres race in statistical deadlock two weeks after debate! Using polls to push Biden out feels like red wave 2020 bs all over again.”

Belcher was commenting on the latest Marist College poll produced for NPR/PBS NewsHour. It found Biden beating Trump 50-48 in a one-to-one matchup. When factoring in the four third-party/independent candidates including RFK Jr., Trump came out ahead of Biden, 43-42.

FiveThirtyEight’s regularly updated polling aggregator currently shows Trump up over Biden by 1.9 points, a drop from Thursday where he was more than two points over Biden. FiveThirtyEight also currently shows; “Biden wins 50 times out of 100 in our simulations of the 2024 presidential election. Trump wins 49 times out of 100.”

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Former Republican and former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer, a resident scholar at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, says the Democratic “freak out needs to stop.”

“Enough.”

Pointing to that same Marist poll, she focuses on a different question.

“This poll also shows character matters more than age. That’s to Biden’s advantage.”

NPR’s headline on its article detailing the poll reads: “After Biden’s debate performance, the presidential race is unchanged.”

“Biden actually gained a point since last month’s survey, which was taken before the debate,” NPR reports, adding: “the survey also found that by a 2-to-1 margin, 68% to 32%, people said it’s more concerning to have a president who doesn’t tell the truth than one who might be too old to serve.”

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To Setmayer’s point, NPR also says, “A majority said Biden has the character to be president (52%), while a majority also said Trump does not (56%).”

Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, offered advice to Biden supporters on how to think about Democrats and pundits pushing for the President to drop out of the race, and how to deal with the day-to-day emotional toll.

“Getting lots of questions on how to lower the anxiety level people are feeling. Best thing you can do is unfollow the people attacking Biden gratuitously. Don’t engage them. Unfollow them. It’s not an honest discussion. It’s a frenzy that’s doing real damage.”

“You will not get an explanation from the political arsonists fueling this panic,” he added. “Stop looking for one. Unfollow them. Drop your subscription. Quit listening. That’s the best thing you can do in the pro-democracy fight right now. Their gaslighting is now a suppression tactic.”

To someone who said they are “scared,” and the situation is “confusing, maddening and sad,” Madrid advised: “Nothing has changed. Stop watching TV and get off Twitter. Take the weekend off. Please.”

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a political strategist for decades and author of “The Conspiracy To End America,” writes: “I worked in campaigns for 30 years. I am hardwired to respond one way when your guy is in trouble: fight harder. Don’t start looking for exit ramps or magic bullets. Play the next play. Do your job. Ignore the scoreboard. It’s supposed to be hard.”

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RFK Jr. Apology Over Sexual Assault Allegation ‘Disingenuous’ – Unsure if More to Come

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent candidate running for president, has apologized to the woman who accused him of sexual assault, and separately told reporters he does not know if there are more potential accusers.

The 70-year old anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist who has said a worm ate a portion of his brain, has not denied allegations of sexual misconduct. A recent Vanity Fair profile reports that in 1998, Eliza Cooney, 23-years old at the time and working as a part-time baby sitter for RFK Jr. and his wife’s children, felt his “hand moving up and down her leg under the table” during “a meeting in the family kitchen.”

There are other allegations in the Vanity Fair profile that include Kennedy being shirtless in Cooney’s bedroom and asking her to rub lotion on his back, which she said was “totally inappropriate.”

And this: “A few months later, Cooney says, she was rifling through the kitchen pantry for lunch after a yoga class, still in her sports bra and leggings, when Kennedy came up behind her, blocked her inside the room, and began groping her, putting his hands on her hips and sliding them up along her rib cage and breasts. ‘My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,’ she says, describing the alleged sexual assault. ‘I was frozen. Shocked.’ ”

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The Washington Post Friday morning reported RFK Jr. “privately apologized to a woman who accused him of sexual assault, saying he does not remember the alleged incident and that any harm he caused was ‘inadvertent.’ ”

“’I have no memory of this incident but I apologize sincerely for anything I ever did that made you feel uncomfortable or anything I did or said that offended you or hurt your feelings,’ Kennedy wrote in a text message to Cooney sent at 12:33 a.m. on July 4, two days after her accusations became public. ‘I never intended you any harm. If I hurt you, it was inadvertent. I feel badly for doing so.’ ”

Cooney told The Post that Kennedy’s texted message was “disingenuous and arrogant.”

“I’m not sure how somebody has a true apology for something that they don’t admit to recalling. I did not get a sense of remorse.”

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Also on Friday, hidden in the middle of a Boston Globe soft profile of the presidential candidate whose support has reportedly now hit ten percent – possibly enough to change the outcome of the election – is Kennedy’s apparent acknowledgment there could be more allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Asked if other women might come forward with similar allegations he said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.’ ”

The Globe notes Kennedy “is currently on the ballot in nine states, and submitted enough signatures to eventually get on the ballot in 15 states. There are five other states where the campaign claims to have enough signatures but hasn’t turned in them in yet, in some cases because the window to do so hasn’t opened.”

FiveThirtyEight reports there is a 58% chance the election “is decided by a smaller margin than the vote share for third-party candidates,” meaning Kennedy, who has the largest portion of third party votes, may have the potential to change the election outcome.

In a parenthetical addition, Vanity Fair updated its report, writing: “After this story was published, Kennedy told the Breaking Points podcast, in response to Cooney’s allegations, that he is ‘not a church boy… I have so many skeletons in my closet.’ When pressed to respond directly to her claims, he told the anchor, ‘I’m not going to comment on it.’ ”

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