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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions in Michigan.

Part 8:
2014-MAR: Reactions to the trial
phase of the DeBoer v. Snyder lawsuit.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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The acronym "LGBT" used throughout this web site refers
to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.

The acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage.

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wedding rings symbolReactions after the conclusion of the trial phase of the lawsuit:

  • The plaintiffs and one lawyer from each side are interviewed by the Detroit Free Press:


The two plaintiffs and their lawyer talked about equal rights for all families and how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage hurts their family. The spokesperson for the Attorney General's office stressed the right of the public to discriminate against same-sex couples; she referred to the "will of the people" as expressed a decade previously when the public voted 59% to 41% in favor of a ban on same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnership. None of the persons interviewed mentioned the current opinion of the public. On 2013-MAY-09, the Glengariff Group Inc. found that support for same-sex marriage is at 56.8% The poll's margin of error is ~+mn~4 percentage points. 2 Glengariff has regularly polled Michigan adults about same-sex marriage and civil unions since 2004. The agency's president, Richard Czuba, said:

"I don't think I've ever seen a policy question move as quickly as this one. ... Back in 2004, this was very much a wedge issue for Republicans. The shoe is on the other foot. This is still a values issue, but it's one of equality rather than 'stop this'." 9

  • Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, said:

    "Equality Michigan appreciates what the DeBoer-Rowse family and their legal team are doing for LGBT families in Michigan and is very optimistic Judge Friedman was persuaded by their case. Michiganders are ready for an end to the second-class treatment of LGBT families and want the nation to know we are not a state that values hate over equality. The State of Michigan's lawyers failed to prove that any harm will be caused by allowing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse to marry, and to adopt their three children. If anything, their witnesses' often conflicting and sometimes vile remarks only reinforced that the state's ban is harming families like the one April and Jayne have created together.

    Judge Friedman's ruling could change the lives of thousands of families in Michigan. We are proud of the case mounted by the DeBoer-Rowse team and are eager to hear what the judge has to say. Whatever the outcome of this case, Equality Michigan is committed to ensuring all LGBT families have equality under the law, and we will continue our relentless efforts until that dream is realized." 6

  • Devin Schindler, professor of constitutional law at Cooley Law School, said:

    "The trend certainly seems to be against the state of Michigan at this point. We‚€™ve had, I believe, 18 or 19 different states, either through judicial determinations or by way of legislation, that have enacted marriage equality statutes or have been forced to recognize marriage equality as a result of court opinions."

Schindler's List appears to be incorrect. (Pardon the pun; I couldn't resist).

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex couples to marry. On election day in 2012-NOV, three states legalized SSM by a voters' plebiscite. In addition, federal District Courts in five states -- Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia -- have legalized SSM since late 2013-DEC, but have stayed their rulings pending appeals to a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That makes a total of 22 states and DC. In addition, Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages legally solemnized in other states,

Schindler continued:

"The question really becomes if the government loses this particular case whether the court will issue the stay. ... If the court doesn‚€™t issue the stay, it‚€™s going to be very interesting to see exactly how the attorney general responds, because if you read the letter, the attorney general is clearly envisioning that a stay will be granted," 7

He said that judges in high profile cases like this one generally stay their decision pending an appeal to a higher court decision.

  • Reactions by the public: 8 The Detroit Free Press article was recommended by about 1,300 readers and received 260 comments. Some were:
    • Tom Griebe: "So, when two heterosexual crack heads make a baby, it is God's will, but when a loving, responsible gay couple go to great lengths to adopt, it is a blasphemy? Welcome to the AG's world."

    • Gerald Fitch: "Who gives a dam if two women get married? If it keeps children out of the death camp known as Michigan foster care, I'm for it."

    • Cindy Clardy: "As I sat watching the closing arguments, I was struck by how many straw dogs and circular arguments the defense kept making. Not enough data on kids raised by intact married same-sex couples so let's not let gay & lesbians get married, so no data will ever be available. She said there is a rational basis for banning same-sex marriage not based on animus. But banning civil unions or any similar relationships in addition to marriage points to animus, not just religious beliefs about marriage. Since marriage licenses don't require children or even intimate sexual relations, are given to post-menopausal and sterile people, the endlessly argued ideal family for rearing children and which expert study used best methodology is a moot point as far as the marriage argument goes. Children are not required for marriage. Think we got a slam dunk here folks! Here's hoping for a really strong written opinion that will stand up during appeals. That is more critical than speed."

    • Joshua Ross: "The problem is that the rights of minority groups should not be put to popular vote by the majority. The phrase "majority rules, minority rights" comes to mind.

    • Don Sepanski: "This will wind up at SCOTUS no matter what this federal judge rules. It's clear one side or the other will appeal.
      Personally I'm one the side of the majority of Michigan voters, including myself, who approved the ban in the first place. I can only hope that SCOTUS listens to the majority of voters.

    • Rick Baker: "... The real issue here is should there be the right to adopt children as a gay couple; and the answer is emphatically no. As an individual you have the right to do whatever you want, but your rights end where another's begins. You don't have the right to force your alternative lifestyle on others, especially children. We know it's a lot of gay people in this country, many don't like it, but accept it as individual freedom. But just because people accept it doesn't mean it's right, it's not natural and that is a fact. If it were natural then you wouldn't need opposite sex's to procreate."

    • Judy Dehaven: "It is abnormal to promote perversion."

    • Bob Day: "The same sex couple is not being discriminated against. Doesnt matter if you are straight or gay, you are legally allowed to marry anyone of the opposite sex. Enjoy."

    • "Common Ground" quoted the case Awad v. Ziriax 670 F.3d 1111, 1132 (10th Cir. 2012):

      "The Constitution does not permit either a state legislature or the state‚€™s citizens through a referendum to enact laws that violate constitutionally protected rights. ... While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out .. . the public has a MORE profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual‚€™s constitutional rights [under the U.S. Constitution]."

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Webmaster's comment: (bias alert)

If the question comes down to what should the state's policy be toward same-sex couples with children, the answer should be obvious. The state has two main options:

  • No change: To continue to treat the couples as "legal strangers" -- as roommates; to not recognize their relationship; and to not extend the state's benefits and protections of marriage to the couples and their children.

  • Marriage Equality: To allow the couple to marry; to formally recognize their relationship; to give them the status associated with marriage; and to extend to them the full state benefits that were previously granted only to opposite-sex couples. Allowing them to marry in Michigan would make them eligible for the 1,138 federal benefits and protections of marriage on a par with married opposite-sex couples in Michigan. It would give them access to health insurance as a couple.

Looking at the matter from the standpoint of the children, it would seem that the obvious choice is to extend marriage equality to all loving, committed couples -- both the same sex and opposite sex. That would make the same-sex parents' relationship more stable. It would give the parents' status in the community as a married couple; it would give their children status as coming from a home led by a married couple.

After the hearing, Joy Yearout, a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office, said:

"Voters decided a mom and dad are important and not interchangeable. The strongest argument we have is that (voters) decided it's best for kids to be raised by a mom and dad."

I have never been able to understand this reasoning. The vast majority of same-sex couples are composed of two lesbians or two gays. Very few same-sex couples include bisexuals. There is now a near consensus among psychiatrists, psychologists, human sexuality researchers, etc., and a growing understanding among the public that one's sexual orientation is unchosen and is fixed in adulthood. Thus almost none of the same-sex couples with children have the option of terminating their relationship and entering into opposite-sex marriages. It would seem that allowing same-sex marriage would be in their best interests and in the best interests of their children.

A ruling is expected about MAR-21, the nominal date for the start of Spring.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Nathaniel Frank, "The shamelessness of Professor Mark Regnerus," Slate, 2014-MAR-04, at:
  2. Tresa Baidas, "Mich. gay marriage trial expert: Ideal family mom, dad," USA Today, 2014-MAR-03, at:
  3. Andy Towle, "As Mark Regnerus takes stand in MI gay marriage case, U-Texas calls his study 'fundamentally flawed'," Towleroad, 2014-MAR-04, at:
  4. Corey Williams, "Judge: Gay Marriage Trial Ruling Within 2 Weeks," ABC News, 2014-MAR-07, at:
  5. Tresa Baidas, "Gay marriage testimony ends, state's last witness says unrepentant homosexuals are going to hell," Lansing State Journal. 2014-MAR-06, at:
  6. "No ruling from Judge Friedman today - Find out what happens next," Equality Michigan, 2014-MAR-07, at:
  7. Jennifer Dowling, "Gay Marriage Ruling Could Force West Michigan Clerks To Make Tough Decision," Fox 17, 2014-MAR-04, at:
  8. "Fate of Michigan same-sex marriage ban now rests with federal judge,"Detroit Free Press, 2014-MAR-07, at:
  9. Joel Kurth, "Poll: Majority in Michigan now support gay marriage," Detroit News, 2013-MAY-14, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Michigan > here

Copyright © by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2014-MAR-08
Latest update: 2014-MAR-18
Author: B.A. Robinson
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