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Michigan, come on down

You are the next state to have your anti-same sex marriage law thrown out by a federal judge.


In a historic ruling that provided a huge morale boost to the gay-rights movement, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman today struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the 18th state in the nation to allow gays and lesbians to join in matrimony, just like their heterosexual counterparts.

And unlike other federal judges who have decided similar cases across the country, Friedman did not stay his ruling, prompting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to file an emergency stay request to prevent gay couples from marrying right away. That includes the two plaintiffs in the case: Hazel Park nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who fought for the right to marry and adopt each other’s special needs children.

“It’s just amazing,” said DeBoer, who wiped tears and hugged her parnter after learning of Friedman’s ruling. “This is what we’ve wanted for our family and families like ours…we are just so happy … We got our day in court and we won.”

Rowse was overwhelmed.

“We’re going to actually be a legalized family, a recognized family by everybody,” she said.

In his 31-page ruling, Friedman heavily criticized the state’s position that the will of the voters should have been upheld, noting that just because voters approve something doesn’t make it right, especially when it violates the Constitution.

“In attempting to define this case as a challenge to ‘the will of the people,’ state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people.

“No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples,” Friedman wrote.

“It is the court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up to ‘understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.’

“Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.”


Unlike most federal judges who have taken up the gay-marriage issue, Friedman opted last fall to hold a trial and give both sides the chance to present their arguments and scientific evidence – the bulk of which focused on same-sex parenting studies and child outcomes of children raised in such family structures.

The state’s experts said that their studies show that children of same-sex couples have poorer outcomes than kids raised by married moms and dads.

Friedman didn’t find the state’s experts credible, stating in his ruling that the testimony of one state witness was “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” He said the states four witnesses “clearly represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majroity of their colleagues across a variety of social science fields.”

You can read a copy of the ruling here. You may have heard of one of the state’s witnesses:

University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, who authored a 2011 New Family Structures Study, testified during the trial that children are better off being raised by a mother and father. Regnerus testified that the “odds are against” gays and lesbians raising children and that the state of Michigan should be “prudent” before changing its law because research into the area is too new.

This is why you might have heard of Mark Regnerus.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say [the Regnerus study is] the best evidence yet that children raised by gay parents suffer a disadvantage. Most experts take a different view—like Darren Sherkat, the sociologist who was tasked with completing a definitive review in 2012, they think “It’s bullshit.”

The study’s formal title is “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?”—and it set off a storm of criticism almost immediately upon publication in 2012. The New York Times’ Erik Eckholm summarized it neatly on Friday, but the story is worth revisiting here—primarily because, no matter how many times and ways other scholars try to discredit the study, it continues to shape policy in state legislatures and amicus briefs. Michigan is only the latest example.

It’s been the same bullshit used by defenders of these awful laws in case after case, and in case after case they’ve gotten their rear ends handed to them. Couldn’t have happened to be a better bunch of people. As this ruling wasn’t stayed, expect a whole lot of couples to show up at their county clerks’ offices on Monday seeking marriage licenses. I wish them all the very best. Daily Kos and Freedom to Marry have more.

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