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Michigan’s gay-marriage ban struck down

Bernard Friedman is ninth federal judge to rule in favour of same-sex marriage

A federal judge in Michigan has struck down the state’s gay-marriage ban, ruling that it is unconstitutional. Credit: gaycitynews.com

A federal judge has struck down Michigan’s gay-marriage ban, becoming the ninth to do so in the space of three months, the Freedom to Marry campaign reports.

Plaintiffs Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a lesbian couple, challenged the state’s ban, which voters approved in 2004.

“After reviewing the evidence presented at trial, including the testimony of various expert witnesses, the exhibits, and stipulations, and after considering all of the legal issues involved, the Court concludes that the [Michigan Marriage Amendment] is unconstitutional,” US District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled March 21.

Friedman wrote that the state’s marriage amendment “impermissibly discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the provision doesn’t advance any conceivable legitimate state interest.”

He also took issue with the state’s argument that the case is a challenge to the “will of the people” who voted in favour of the ban, saying it had “lost sight of what this case is truly about: people.”

Among the expert witnesses the state called was sociologist Mark Regnerus, who has claimed that gay parenting harms children.

But the court found Regnerus’s testimony to be “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.”

It further stated, “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.’”

The ruling also states, “While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.”

Prior to Regnerus’s testimony, both the College of Liberal Arts and the Sociology Department at the University of Texas at Austin distanced themselves from his opinions.

The latter department also cites the perspective of the American Sociological Association, noting that that body finds Regenerus’s conclusions drawn from his gay-parenting study to be “fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds.”

Michigan’s attorney-general, Bill Schuette, is appealing the ruling, asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to put a hold on Friedman’s ruling, BuzzFeed reports.