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Witherspoon Scholar Was ‘Paid Consultant’ On Parenting Study

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Mark Regnerus said the conservative organization that funded his study played ‘no role’ in the research. New evidence calls that claim into question.

When University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus released a study this summer portraying gay parents in a negative light, he insisted that the conservative funders who backed the research had no involvement in how it was designed, implemented, or interpreted.

But recently emerging evidence shows that a scholar affiliated at the time with the Witherspoon Institute — the socially conservative think tank that supplied the bulk of Regnerus’ funding — did indeed play a role carrying out and analyzing the study.

In his peer-reviewed article, Regnerus said his research revealed different — and often unfavorable — outcomes for children of gay parents when compared to children raised by a mother and father in biologically intact families. Opponents of gay marriage immediately seized Regnerus’ initial findings from the ongoing “New Family Structures Study,” published in the July issue of Social Science Research. The study has been cited in court briefs to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and by a federal judge in a decision upholding Hawaii’s ban on same-sex marriage. Opponents of marriage equality have also used it in state-level ballot-measure campaigns.

Right away, Regnerus’ findings sparked a backlash, as critics said his study was methodologically flawed. Many have argued that Regnerus’ actual comparisons — children raised in households with two biological parents compared to children raised in families where one parent had a same-sex relationship at some point, regardless of whether the child lived with that parent — did not correspond with his conclusions.

The research has also provoked questions, especially from gay-rights advocates, about whether the Witherspoon Institute – some of whose leaders have ties to the National Organization for Marriage and other groups that advocate against gay marriage – influenced the study’s design. Both Regnerus and Witherspoon have denied this charge.

It turns out that from 2010 to 2012, one of the study’s paid consultants was William Bradford Wilcox. For much of that time, Wilcox was also the director of Witherspoon’s “Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy,” the program from which Regnerus’ study was born.

Much of the new evidence regarding Wilcox’s involvement was unearthed by New Civil Rights Movement blogger Scott Rose.

Wilcox is a conservative scholar and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where since 2009 he has directed the National Marriage Project, whose stated mission is “to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America, to analyze the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.” Among his many affiliations, Wilcox is on the Board of Advisory Editors of Social Science Research, which published Regnerus’ study.

Up until Oct. 2, the Witherspoon Institute’s website identified Wilcox as the director of the Witherspoon’s Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy (referred to in this case as the “Program on Marriage, Family, and Democracy.”) That link is now defunct. The Witherspoon’s tax form from 2010 describes the launch of the “New Family Structures Study” as one of the year’s main achievements of the Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy.

Back in June, Rose filed a complaint with the University of Texas, accusing Regnerus of scientific misconduct concerning his study. As a matter of protocol, the university conducted an initial investigation and concluded in late August that “no formal investigation is warranted.” The university used that investigation as a reason for not disclosing to The American Independent any documents related to the Regnerus’ study. Now that the investigation is over, the university is trying to prevent disclosure by arguing that the information related to the study is proprietary.

In response to a public records request from Rose for communications between Regnerus and Wilcox concerning the study, the university’s counsel asked Texas’ attorney general to allow the university to withhold those documents. Rose provided TAI with a copy of the letter, which says that “Professors Regnerus and Wilcox collaborated on the data collection and analysis that formed the basis of Dr. Regnerus’s publication” on the New Family Structures Study.

The responsive documents include email exchanges between the University’s Professor Mark Regnerus and a colleague, W. Bradford Wilcox, from the University of Virginia (TAB 6). The communications pertain to scientific research conducted by Dr. Regnerus and published in his New Family Structures Study. Professors Regnerus and Wilcox collaborated on the data collection and analysis that formed the basis of Dr. Regnerus’s publication, thus, their communications reveal substantive analytical and scientific data that is protected from disclosure under Section 51.914,Texas Education Code. To release this information would facilitate third party appropriation of Dr. Regnerus’s intellectual property.

In an employment authorization form obtained by TAI from the University of Texas, Wilcox’s role in Regnerus’ project is described this way: “Dr. Brad Wilcox will provide consulting work for Dr. Mark Regnerus on his New Family Structure Study. He will be assisting with data analysis. This is sporadic work throughout the spring semester and summer.” Rose has also reported on this form.

The form, dated April 24, 2012, indicates that Wilcox was to be paid $2,000 for his services from April through August, 2012, and notes that Wilcox has “worked with Dr. Regnerus on data analysis and structure in the past.”

‘Provided input to Professor Mark Regnerus’

From the beginning, Regnerus and the Witherspoon Institute have said Witherspoon had nothing to do with how the study was designed or implemented — other than providing roughly $700,000 for Regnerus to carry out the work.

In his initial article on his findings, Regnerus wrote: “The NFSS was supported in part by grants from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. While both of these are commonly known for their support of conservative causes—just as other private foundations are known for supporting more liberal causes—the funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of this manuscript.”

And the Witherspoon Institute, on its website promoting the study, states: “In order to insure that the NFSS was conducted with intellectual integrity, beginning from the earliest stages the Witherspoon Institute was not involved in the Study’s design, implementation, or interpretation.”

Wilcox, Regnerus, and the Witherspoon Institute have all stood by previous statements that the Witherspoon was never involved in how Regnerus’ study was designed or implemented.

Witherspoon President Luis Tellez told TAI in an email exchange this week that Wilcox was a fellow for Witherspoon from 2004 until the summer or fall of 2011 but that Wilcox was never a staff member at Witherspoon. Tellez confirmed that Wilcox served as the director of the Witherspoon’s Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy, while the New Family Structure Study was being developed, but he said Wilcox exited that position “when the NFSS was entering the period of implementation i.e. the survey was about to be fielded.”

“In his capacity of director of the program in Family, Marriage and Democracy Prof. Wilcox offered advice and assistance in various family related events or projects that the Witherspoon Institute decided to undertake,” Tellez said. “Never did Prof. Wilcox represent in any way the Witherspoon Institute when dealing with other scholars or the public. Prof. Wilcox, like any other fellow of the Institute, never was involved in the decision making of the Witherspoon Institute. More specifically, he was never involved in any decision making at the Witherspoon Institute in matters related to the New Family Structure Study.”

According to Tellez, Wilcox did not advise the Witherspoon Institute on matters relating to “the scope of the study, how it is to be conducted and how to interpret the results.”

But Wilcox was involved in the process that led to the study’s creation, Tellez said.

“His role was to help assemble an initial group of scholars, Mark Regnerus included, out of which came the idea of the NFSS,” Tellez said.

Tellez said Wilcox did not use his role at Witherspoon to pressure Regnerus to conduct his study in any specific way.

“Wilcox participation in the NFSS was of course known to Witherspoon, at no point however he used his role in the NFSS or his connection to WI to convey any sentiments or wishes as to how the NFSS was being conducted or convey desired outcomes, etc.,” Tellez said. “The only sentiments that were conveyed, and this were conveyed primarily to Mark, was to be sure the study was conducted in the most professional manner, that scholars from the ideological spectrum be included, to respect the findings whatever they were, etc. I said primarily conveyed to Regnerus, but because I knew Wilcox longer and had confidence in his professional integrity, I would inquire with him occasionally as to whether this standards were being applied. Just to be sure all was well.”

After TAI questioned Wilcox about his roles at the Witherspoon Institute and as a paid consultant on the study, Wilcox published a blog post on FamilyScholars.org Tuesday night, which he said was in response to questions asked by fellow FamilyScholars blogger Barry Deutsch. In the post, Wilcox downplayed his title as Witherspoon’s director of the Program on Family, Marriage, and Democracy as “honorific.” He said that from October 2010 to April 2012, he “provided input to Professor Mark Regnerus about the design, analysis, and interpretation of the survey data associated with the NFSS,” but he emphasized that he did not make “funding or programmatic decisions at” Witherspoon. He also noted that he was among “a dozen paid academic consultants” who worked with Regnerus on the project.

“I viewed my consultation for the NFSS as collegial, that is, as providing academic advice that Regnerus was free to take or ignore (and he took some advice, and went his own way on other matters). I was not acting in an official Witherspoon capacity in relationship to him,” Wilcox wrote.

Regnerus also told TAI in a phone interview that he never viewed Wilcox as a “Witherspoon agent.”

“He never acted as a Witherspoon mouthpiece,” Regnerus said. “As a consultant he did not represent Witherspoon.”

Responding to Wilcox’s post, Deutsch wrote Wednesday that Wilcox’s dual role at the Witherspoon and as a paid consultant on the study should have been disclosed, and that the omission was deceptive.

“There is nothing unethical about Brad working with both NFSS and Witherspoon, in my opinion,” he wrote. “Brad is a known scholar with interests similar to those of Witherspoon and Professor Regnerus; it is natural that both the staff at Witherspoon and Professor Regnerus should seek his advice.”

But, he added: “In my opinion, Professor Regnerus’ carefully-crafted statement about his funding sources’ non-participation was deceptive. It omitted a relationship that was obviously relevant and should have been mentioned, and Regnerus’ choice to omit that, and the use of wording which gave the impression that there was unequivocally no relationship to report, calls his credibility into question.”

 

This article originally appeared at The American Independent and is republished here by permission.

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‘Just the First Step’: Trump Declares ‘Uniting Our Nation’ Means Ending All Cases Against Him

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Donald Trump, declaring his surviving Saturday’s attempted assassination a “miracle,” reportedly has changed his upcoming address to this week’s Republican National Convention to promoting “unity.” But unlike President Joe Biden’s Oval Office speech Sunday night urging America come together, the ex-president is defining national unity as everyone agreeing all legal and civil cases against him are baseless “Witch Hunts.”

Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after a 20-year old registered Republican with an AR-15 style rifle unloaded eight bullets in the ex-president’s direction, causing his ear to be grazed, possibly by schraptnal or glass, while killing a 50-year old supporter at a rally in the stands behind him, Trump posted just two words to his Truth Social account: “UNITE AMERICA!”

“The former president has told multiple outlets he wants to focus on unifying the country after surviving an assassination attempt,” Rolling Stone reports. “As Trump’s allies and other prominent Republican commentators attempt to weaponize the shooting into a political cudgel against Democrats to silence criticism of Trump and his track record endorsing political violence, it may only be a matter of time before the former president slips back into his old habits.”

Monday morning, barely one hour after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee in Florida, handed down her ruling entirely dismissing the Espionage Act/classified documents case against the ex-president, Trump expanded on his definition of unity: ending “ALL the Witch Hunts.”

RELATED: As Cannon Dismisses Trump Classified Docs Case Experts Pin Blame on Clarence Thomas

“As we move forward in Uniting our Nation after the horrific events on Saturday, this dismissal of the Lawless Indictment in Florida should be just the first step, followed quickly by the dismissal of ALL the Witch Hunts — The January 6th Hoax in Washington, D.C., the Manhattan D.A.’s Zombie Case, the New York A.G. Scam, Fake Claims about a woman I never met (a decades old photo in a line with her then husband does not count), and the Georgia ‘Perfect’ Phone Call charges. The Democrat Justice Department coordinated ALL of these Political Attacks, which are an Election Interference conspiracy against Joe Biden’s Political Opponent, ME. Let us come together to END all Weaponization of our Justice System, and Make America Great Again!”

Veteran journalist Brian J. Karem responded to Trump’s post, writing: “So much for uniting people. That didn’t last a single day.”

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) added, “I knew this mad man would soon be back. He’s incapable of unifying peanut butter and jelly. For Trump it’s always been me, me, me first (& only).”

Media columnist Justin Baragona noted, “The new Trump tone lasted a record 36 hours.”

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

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As Cannon Dismisses Trump Classified Docs Case Experts Pin Blame on Clarence Thomas

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in a 93-page opinion has dismissed the Espionage Act/classified documents case against ex-president Donald Trump, claiming Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment by Attorney General Merrick Garland “violates the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution.” Legal experts, calling her ruling “wrong,” say U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is to blame.

Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury on 37 felony charges, 31 of them under the Espionage Act, in the case related to his alleged unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return hundreds of documents, many classified, some top secret, and some so secret they include the nation’s nuclear secrets.

“There’s no case any more, it’s been dismissed,” observed former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, a former Counselor to the U.S. Attorney General, on MSNBC. He said he is “confident” Judge Cannon’s ruling would be appealed.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported the bombshell news:

Other legal experts agree.

“This ruling (which is wrong six ways from Sunday) can (and will) be immediately appealed to the Eleventh Circuit,” wrote professor of law Steve Vladeck. “To me, the only question is whether the Special Counsel also asks for the case to be reassigned on remand…”

Former federal civil rights prosecutor Dr. Kristy Parker, Counsel at Protect Democracy, said: “Hard to characterize how wrong this is — at least in a world where law matters. We may not be in that world any longer.”

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

Last month in oral arguments the argument Smith’s appointment was unlawful was made to Cannon, MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin noted Monday morning, saying that the judge appeared at the time to dismiss that claim.

“People tried this against Special Counsel Robert Muller,” MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian stressed, “and were unsuccessful and it’s really important to point out and so viewers understand there’s nothing in this opinion that speaks to the merits of this case, to the classified documents to the allegations of obstruction of justice. This is an entirely procedural issue. It’s a constitutional question. It’s whether whether the law establishing the Special Counsel violates the appointments clause, and she also actually made a ruling on a separate argument about the appropriations clause. And and she, and she’s decided that the way Congress is funding the way the Special Counsel is funded, is not appropriate either.”

Constitutional law professor and political scientist Anthony Michael Kreis described the dismissal as “Insanity.”

Noting today is also the start of the 2024 Republican National Convention, founder and Executive Director of Protect Democracy, Ian Bassin, a former Associate White House Counsel, blasted the Trump-appointed judge:

“Cannon likely thought releasing her latest gift to Trump at the opening of the RNC would help him, but changing today’s headlines to a pic reminding that Trump stole our nation’s most sensitive nat’l security docs and hid them in his bathroom may not be the gift she thinks it is.”

MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney called Cannon’s decision, “Absolutely incredible,” while concurring the ruling will be appealed.

“That’s it,” she added. “Unless the 11th Circuit & ultimately SCOTUS disagree, Trump goes free for walking out of the White House with top secret documents. At best, this is seriously delayed. Disgusted.”

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

Some legal experts, including Vance, point to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ separate concurrence in the Trump immunity case as giving Judge Cannon the roadmap to come to this decision.

“This was the argument advanced by Justice Thomas in his concurrence in Trump v. US, which no other Justice signed into at the time,” Vance noted.

Professor of law Leah Litman observed, “Justice Thomas’s ‘Cannon-currence’ worked.”

Parenthetically, she explained, “In the Trump immunity case, Justice Thomas wrote separately to suggest the special counsel was unlawfully appointed; the reasoning laid out the roadmap for this (wrong) result/decision.”

“Justice Thomas strikes again,” wrote professor of law Melisa Murray. “Not only did a majority of the Court give presidents almost unfettered license in the immunity case, Justice Thomas concurred separately to question the constitutionality of the special counsel. He laid the table and Judge Cannon took a seat.”

“Surprising absolutely no one,” observed legal journalist Cristian Farias. “This is a Federalist Society pipe dream, one they could never achieve during the Mueller years. And precisely what Clarence Thomas, all alone, suggested should happen in the Trump immunity case.”

But, he added, “This is not the end.”

Read the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

 

This article has been updated to include Professor Murray’s remarks.

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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.”

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

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.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

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.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

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