Michigan’s gay marriage ban going to trial
By ED WHITE, Associated Press
DETROIT, Feb. 24, 2014 (AP): Michigan's nearly decade-old ban on
gay marriage is going to trial Tuesday, with two weeks set aside
for testimony from experts about whether there's a legitimate
state interest in restricting marriage to a man and a woman.
Same-sex couples poised for a favorable ruling last fall had
lined up for marriage licenses across Michigan, only to be
stunned when U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he
wanted to hold a trial. Since then, judges in Utah, Oklahoma and
Virginia have struck down bans on gay marriage. At least 17
states and the District of Columbia now allow it.
In Michigan, two Detroit-area nurses are challenging the state's
ban, which was approved by 59 percent of voters in 2004. They
sued in 2012 to try to overturn a law that bars them from
adopting each other's children, but the case was expanded at
Friedman's invitation to include same-sex marriage.
``If marriage is a fundamental right, then logic and emerging
Supreme Court precedent dictate that the legitimacy of two
adults' love for one another is the same in the eyes of the law
regardless of sexual orientation,'' attorneys for April DeBoer
and Jayne Rowse said in a court filing last fall.
They argue that Michigan's constitutional amendment violates the
U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, which forbids
states from treating people differently under the law.
The state attorney general's office, meanwhile, is defending the
2004 election result.
``Their attempt to circumvent the legislative process and
disrupt the will of the people of the state of Michigan must be
rejected,'' the state said.
On Monday, more than 30 pastors from Baptist churches and
conservative Christian congregations around Michigan held a news
conference to declare their support for the ban. They said
family stability and the Bible demand marriage only between a
man and a woman.
``The fight is on,'' said the Rev. Roland Caldwell of
Burnette Inspirational Ministries in Detroit. ``Don't tell me I
can go to the polls and then the next day tell me I don't know
what I'm doing.''
One of the state's key witnesses will be Mark Regnerus, a
sociologist at the University of Texas. In 2012, he published a
study in an academic journal, saying young adults with a parent
who had a same-sex relationship were more likely to experience
unemployment and other social woes. He later acknowledged that
his study didn't look at children raised by stable same-sex
Another witness is scholar Sherif Girgis, author of a
2012 book, ``What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.''
Attorneys for DeBoer and Rowse are asking the judge to block
their testimony as irrelevant.
Friedman recently said ``it doesn't look good'' for Girgis, but
he won't make a decision on any witnesses until they're called