Roger Weber Feb. 26 blog from gay marriage trial

Wednesday February 26, 2014
9:15 roger weber: Wednesday hearing continues testimony of Michael Rosenfeld, Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford.

9:16 roger weber: Rosenfeld says there is "no evidence whatsoever" that same sex marriage has an effect on heterosexual marriage.

9:18 roger weber: Rosenfeld: It's clear that being raised by same sex parents is no disadvantage to children.

9:22 roger weber: Cross examination by Kristin Heyse, representing the Michigan Attorney General.

9:23 roger weber: She begins by reminding him that same sex marriage is relatively new. Massachusetts was the first state to allow it in 2004.

9:44 roger weber: Heyse is grilling Rosenfeld on his rejection of two studies which conclude children of same sex couples face more challenges than those raised by heterosexual couples.

9:53 roger weber: Heyse: The same sex community is small for research. One and two per cent of all couples?
Rosenfeld: Correct.
Heyse: Children raised by them are less than one per cent. Correct?
Rosenfeld. Correct.

10:02 roger weber: Kenneth Mogill, representing DeBoer and Rowse, is questioning Rosenfeld on redirect.

10:05 roger weber: Rosenfeld says even though many studies of same sex couples cover a small sample, numerous studies share the same conclusion: Kids of gay and lesbian couples fare as well as those raised by traditional parents.

10:22 roger weber: A stipulation is being read into the record, meaning both sides agree with these points: Rowse and DeBoer are "responsible parents providing a stable and loving home."
Rowse has two adopted sons. DeBoer has an adopted daughter. The lack of legal rights of one partner as to the other partner's children "creates stress and anxiety in their lives and instability to their children." For example, if one partner were to die, the other would have no legal right to visit the children.

10:23 roger weber: Waiting for the next witness. Court in recess.

10:58 roger weber: Trial is about to resume. Witness will be Professor Vivek Sankaran.
All of this week's witnesses are testifying in support of DeBoer and Rowse. Witnesses for the Michigan Attorney General begin next week.

11:03 roger weber: Sankaren is from the University of Michigan Law School. He directs the Child Advocacy Law Clinic.

11:10 roger weber: In 2009 he started the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. It's mission is to help kids in the foster care system.

11:26 roger weber: The Attorney General's lawyer is grilling Sankaran about his professional background. In an earlier brief, the AG's Office tried to disqualify him as an expert witness. Judge Friedman denied the motion.

11:31 roger weber: Friedman says he questions the relevancy of Sankaran's testimony, but he will allow it.

11:36 roger weber: Sankaran: We have 3500 children in the Michigan foster care system who are looking for adoptive homes but can't find them. Reducing barriers to adoption could benefit children who are aging out of foster care.

11:42 roger weber: He's talking about how DeBoer and Rowse would have been screened as foster parents. Like other prospective foster parents, they had to undergo home inspections, a criminal background check and training. He calls it an "incredibly thorough process."

11:46 roger weber: He says when DeBoer and Rowse moved from being foster parents to adoptive parents, they had to repeat the screening they experienced earlier.
"It's almost starting the entire process again."

11:50 roger weber: Before the adoption is approved, the court considers "the love and affection between the child and parent, the permanency of the family unit, and the moral fitness of the adoptive parents."

12:06 roger weber: The question now is: If one partner were to die, what rights would the surviving partner have to the children? Sankaran says the person would have to go to court to get a guardianship order.
"There is absolutely no guarantee in our law that the person would get the guardianship order."
This is an important point, because DeBoer and Rowse are raising three children together, but have been foreced to adopt separately.

12:15 roger weber: Sankaran says the number of foster children aging out of the system has risen from 500 in 2005 to a little over 800 now. "We are leaving an increasing number of children without a permanent home." According to earlier testimony, same-sex couples are more likely than heterosexual couples to be willing to raise foster care and special needs kids.

12:19 roger weber: Sankaran: The current law that exists imposes a barrier to the pool of adoptive parents. It's really hurting kids in foster care.

12:22 roger weber: Cross examination by Joseph Potchen, representing the Attorney General.

12:26 roger weber: Potchen: Generally courts don't deny the decedent's wishes (as to the care of the children when one partner dies) do they?
Sankaran: I wouldn't expect it.

12:26 roger weber: Court in recess until 9:00 a.m. Thursday.