Michigan Judge Approves Gay Marriage / Adoption – For the Sake of the Children!

Just in – the Michigan plaintiffs wanting to marry and jointly adopt their existing three children have won their case.

 In less than a year since the Supreme Court decision striking down one section of Doma, by my count that’s ten states in which courts have ruled against all or part of their state bans on gay marriage: New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee – and now Michigan.
De Boer - Rowse and family
This one is much more important than just the latest in the line of victories: It’s all about family, and the best interests of the children.

It’s also the first since the California trials over Proposition 8 to have been decided by a full trial, with an extensive array of testimony by expert witness entered into the court record. The New York Times notes in its report that this extensive record will be valuable in sustaining the court findings against the appeal which has already been lodged, and will also be helpful to courts in the many other states where similar cases are still awaiting decisions. That evidence come down overwhelmingly in favour of marriage and family equality.

As with the California experience, the judge  found once again that the “evidence” cited in support of the ban simply does not hold up to scrutiny. This is particularly important, because the original motivation for bringing the suit, was to allow the plaintiffs, who between them have already adopted and are raising three children with special needs, to adopt them jointly. Under Michigan law, this is not possible for unmarried couples, and as same – sex couples are unable to marry, they are also not permitted joint adoption. It was common cause in this case that the couple involved are great parents – but the state nevertheless attempted to argue paradoxically that they should not be permitted to marry, because the ban on gay marriage and adoption is necessary “for the sake of the children”. This is also a major part of the to gay marriage and gay adoption raised by the Catholic church and its lobbyists – but is a claim that has been roundly rejected by Judge Friedman:

The state, arguing that it would be risky to change the definition of marriage, cited studies that concluded that children raised by same-sex couples had worse outcomes in life.

Those challenging the ban argued that the studies had been widely discredited, and Judge Friedman agreed, calling them deeply flawed. Lawyers for the plaintiffs described the scholars who appeared for the state as religiously motivated and part of a “desperate fringe,” and subjected them to withering cross-examination. Scholars called to rebut the testimony described a virtual consensus in the field that other things like income and stability being equal, children fared just as well with same-sex parents.

– New York Times

The judge was particularly scathing in his criticism of the testimony of “expert witness” Mark Regnerus, poster boy for opponents of marriage equality, and the relevance of his highly touted research. Equality on trial (a specialist blog on gay marriage law) quotes part of the judgement:

The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 “study” was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it “essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society” and which “was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.” See Pls.’ Motion in limine to Exclude Testimony of Mark Regnerus, Ex. 9. In the funder’s view, “the future of the institution of marriage at this moment is very uncertain” and “proper research” was needed to counter the many studies showing no differences in child outcomes. Id. The funder also stated that “this is a project where time is of the essence.” Id.


Additionally, the NFSS is flawed on its face, as it purported to study “a large, random sample of American young adults (ages 18-39) who were raised in different types of family arrangements” (emphasis added), but in fact it did not study this at all, as Regnerus equated being raised by a same-sex couple with having ever lived with a parent who had a “romantic relationship with someone of the same sex” for any length of time. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this “study,” he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general and reaffirmed the aforementioned APA position statement.

Samesex_marriage_in_USA, March 2014

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