roger weber: First witness is Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown. She is a defendant, but supports the plaintiffs, and their fight to make same sex marriage legal in Michigan.
Many questions about her background and rules for getting a marriage license. Nothing yet on same-sex marriage, but she is not allowed to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Attorney Michael Pitt: Do you have any discretion in issuing marriage licenses?
Brown: No we just have to follow the law.
roger weber: Pitt: You are aware of ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan?
Pitt: If that ban did not exist what would your position be in terms of issuing licenses to same sex couples?
Brown: If the ban did not exist I would be issuing licenses to same sex couples who meet the other requirements.
roger weber: Brown: My oath is to uphold the constitution. What my personal feelings are is irrelevant.
It’s a crime for a county clerk not to give a marriage license to someone who is qualified. It’s a misdemeanor.
Brown indicated that the Attorney General’s Office is “holding up” a revised marriage license form she had completed, in case the same sex marriage ban is thrown out.
roger weber: Brown says the October letter from Attorney General Bill Schuette told clerks that if the federal court strikes down the same-sex marriage ban, they are forbidden by Michigan law to issue those licenses pending an appeal of the decision.
roger weber: Note: Last week, a federal judge in Texas struck down that state's same-sex marriage ban. However, no same sex couples can get marriage licenses there. That's because the ruling was stayed pending appeal.
roger weber: Brown says it's her obligation to follow the direction of the federal judge, not the Attorney General.
roger weber: Brown says under current rules, she is not able to take into account the stability of a couple’s relationship, past drug use, child abuse or failure to pay child support.
roger weber: Attorney Dana Nessel: So for opposite sex couples, none of those factors apply at all?
roger weber: Brown has finished her testimony. Attorney General's Office will now begin its case. Court is in a brief recess.
roger weber: First witness for the Attorney General will be Sherif Gergis, author of “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: a Defense.”
He is being questioned by Joseph Potchen, representing Attorney General Bill Schuette.
roger weber: Gergis graduated in 2008 from Princeton, where he studied philosophy. He has a Masters in philosophy from Oxford.
roger weber: Gergis says his book examined the philosophical implications of the traditional, and revisionist views of marriage.
roger weber: Gergis: It is reasonable to think that allowing same-sex marriage “would change the social meaning of marriage in ways that might undermine the reasons (why the state gets involved in marriage.)”
roger weber: Gergis: “There is special value to male-female relationships which cannot be attributed to animus against a group…..”
roger weber: Gergis says his objections to same-sex marriage are rooted not in religion, but to philosophical traditions dating back to Plato and Aristotle.
Kenneth Mogill, attorney for DeBoer and Rowse, objects to Gergis testifying.
roger weber: Judge Friedman has just ruled that Gergis cannot testify. “He's very eloquent. Some day he will be an expert witness, but right now all he is offering is mainly his opinions."
roger weber: Mark Regnerus is testifying now. He conducted a survey which he says shows differences in the success rates of children who have gay or lesbian parents, compared to the children of traditional couples. He is the key witness for the Michigan Attorney General.
roger weber: He is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.
roger weber: He's being questioned by Kristin Heyse, representing the Michigan Attorney General.
roger weber: Plaintiffs had already filed motions calling the Regnerus testimony “irrelevant and unreliable.”
roger weber: His “New Family Structures Study.” screened over 15,000 people including some who reported that their parents had had same sex relationships.
roger weber: 2,988 people were in the final study.
roger weber: Regnerus: “It’s unwise to make major decisions without leaning on large population-based national studies.” He believes the studies admitted on behalf of the plaintiffs are incomplete because the number of participants is too low, and because participants were allowed to select themselves into the study.
roger weber: Regnerus says the social science in this area is changing rapidly. He says conclusions that there is no difference in the success rates of children raised by same sex couples as opposed to opposite sex couples are “unscientific and premature.”
roger weber: Asked to describe the ideal environment for a child, Regnerus said, “A married mother and father, stably residing with the child.”
roger weber: Survey participants were 18-39 years old. Regnerus says people in the survey were asked questions about their lives, parental relationships, employment, education, criminal background etc. “In 25 of the 40 outcomes, a simple statistical difference was always in favor of the intact biological family.”
roger weber: He says respondents who said their mother or father had a same sex relationship, hadn't necessarily lived in the same household with both partners of the same-sex relationship..
roger weber: He says he had no idea what the study would reveal.
“It isn’t intended to address legal and political questions.” However, Regnerus says legislators should have quality information on child outcomes.
roger weber: 248 of the over 15,000 young adults surveyed said their mother or father had a same sex relationship. Most of those respondents were the product of a failed heterosexual union.
roger weber: The study did not control for family instability.
roger weber: He says the respondents whose mothers or fathers had a same sex relationship, were more likely to have received welfare growing up, to be unemployed, to have less educational attainment, to have used marijuana, to have had contact with the criminal justice system, and to have had multiple sex partners.
NOTE: This is compared to children who grew up with their biological mothers and fathers. The plaintiffs say this is an improper comparison.
roger weber: Court in recess. Cross examination will start tomorrow.
Roger Weber trial blog March 3