A two-week trial in a case challenging
Michigan's ban on gay marriage came to a close Friday with the
federal judge overseeing it saying he expects to rule within two
Plaintiff couple Jayne Rowse and April
DeBoer challenged the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional
amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The women are
raising three adopted children they were forced to adopt individually
because state law only allows married couples to adopt jointly.
“We are hopeful we'll be on the right
side of history,” DeBoer
told reporters on Friday. “Everyone realizes that marriage
means family, and that's what we want.”
The state has argued that the ban is
necessary to protect children.
“This is about … what's best for
the children of the state of Michigan,” Kristin Heyse, an attorney
for the state, said in her closing arguments.
“Voters decided a mom and a dad are
important and not interchangeable,” Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for
the attorney general's office, said after the hearing. “The
strongest argument we have is that [voters] decided it's best for
kids to be raised by a mom and a dad.”
Witnesses for the state included
Canadian economist Douglas Allen, who claimed that children raised by
gay parents are more likely to have difficulties in school, and Mark
Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of
Texas at Austin, who testified that the state “should be skeptical”
of gay couples raising children.
in Michigan gay marriage trial claims gays going to hell.)
Both witnesses have strong ties to
conservative groups. For instance, Regnerus' controversial 2012
study was funded by The Witherspoon Institute, which is opposed to
marriage equality. During cross-examination, Allen denied that he
sits on the board of advisers of the Ruth Institute, a vocal opponent
of LGBT rights. Yet Allen is listed on the group's site as a member
of its “Circle of Experts” available for speaking engagements.
Ken Mogill, one of the attorneys
representing the plaintiffs, said that their witnesses presented
convincing arguments that gay couples make good parents.
“The witnesses are at the top of
their fields,” Mogill said. “They all know what they are talking
about and don't try to put a spin on it.”
Federal judges in recent months have
knocked down all or part of similar bans in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Kentucky, Virginia and Texas.
On the same day that Michigan's trial
wrapped up, four
gay couples in Indiana filed a similar lawsuit.