Roger Weber trial blog Feb. 28

Friday February 28, 2014

8:59 roger weber: Friedman on the bench.

9:01 roger weber: First witness is Nancy F. Cott. She is a history professor at Harvard.

9:05 roger weber: Author of: Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (2000)

9:20 roger weber: Kenneth Mogill: Is procreation a requirement of marriage?
Cott: No.
Mogill: Has it been in the past?
Cott: No. No marriage laws I'm aware of have any requirement to bear children.

9:26 roger weber: Mogill: Who has the authority to regulate marriage in the United States?
Cott: The civil law, legislatures and courts.

9:32 roger weber: Mogill: What is the role of religious authorities?
Cott: While free to say what is right for their congregations, they have never had the power to make a valid marriage.

9:34 roger weber: Asked about the Attorney General's support of "traditional marriage," Cott replied that the position risks "vagueness and misguidedness." She says marriage has undergone many changes throughout history.

9:37 roger weber: Cott says the emergence of wives to full individuality was a fundamental change in marriage.

9:43 roger weber: Cott testified that divorce used to be granted mainly for adultery and desertion.
A major change was the move to no fault divorce in the 1960's, 70's and 80's.

9:46 roger weber: " The most important thing about marriage is consent….that couples join this bond with its obligations freely."

9:48 roger weber: Testifying about laws that banned interracial marriage, Cott said, "This shows that marriage laws can be discriminatory. But over time, all of these laws were dismantled."

9:55 roger weber: Mogill: Did Michigan ever have such a law?
Cott: Yes, in the 19th century. It was abolished in 1883, which is unusually early. That's a credit to Michigan.

9:56 roger weber: Speaking of changes in marriage laws throughout history, Cott said, "This has been critical to keep marriage vigorous and appealing."

10:05 roger weber: Cott: History shows changes made in marriage to bring it up to date have only been beneficial to the institution.

10:06 roger weber: Mogill: Is Michigan's ban on same sex marriage consistent with trends?
Cott: I would say the trend is moving to gender equality and gender neutrality

10:06 roger weber: Cross examination by Michelle Brya, representing the Michigan Attorney General.

10:18 roger weber: Brya: You think it's okay for the state to discredit some relationships? (such is inter-family marriages and bigamy).
Cott: Yes.

10:20 roger weber: Brya: Do different sexes bring different contributions to parenting?
Cott: It looks that way based on social science.

10:49 roger weber: Her testimony has ended. Next witness on Monday will be Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown. She is named as a defendant, but supports DeBoer and Rowse.

11:08 roger weber: Attorney Joseph Potchen, representing the Attorney General's Office, is asking Friedman to throw out the case. He said the plaintiffs have "failed to negate every conceivable reason for the Michigan Marriage Amendment."
He said voters were trying to establish the importance of mothers and fathers in raising children, and the state has never said that gay and lesbian people make bad parents.
"The people of Michigan are free to promote an ideal."

11:16 roger weber: Counterargument from Kenneth Mogill, representing DeBoer and Rowse.
"What you have seen is an overwhelming record showing the utter lack of a rational basis for the Michigan Marriage Amendment."
He said the evidence presented this week bolsters recent decisions of other federal judges supporting same sex marriage.
Friedman took the Attorney General's motion under advisement, but gave no indication he is going to stop the case now. The trial resumes Monday.