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Judge: Gay Marriage Trial Ruling Within 2 Weeks

by Corey Williams
Friday Mar 7, 2014
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Jayne Rowse, left, and her partner April DeBoer and DeBoer’s mother Wendy DeBoer
Jayne Rowse, left, and her partner April DeBoer and DeBoer’s mother Wendy DeBoer  (Source:AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Mandi Wright)

A federal judge said he expects to make a decision within two weeks after Friday’s closing arguments in a challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Science, data, expert testimony and constitutional protections were among the various points attorneys presented before Judge Bernard Friedman in the case that has attracted attention because other states with similar bans have ended up in federal court.

Michigan voters approved the state ban in 2004, but Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of Hazel Park have challenged it.

Rowse and DeBoer have been together for eight years and are raising three adopted children who have special needs. Under Michigan’s law, they can’t jointly adopt the kids because they’re not married, which could cause problems if one of the women dies.

"The right to marry is a fundamental right that should apply regardless of sexual orientation," said attorney Ken Mogill, co-counsel for Rowse and DeBoer. "The record establishes utterly no rational basis for Michigan’s stance on gay marriage."

Mogill said Friday that experts who testified against the ban presented convincing arguments that children raised by same-sex couples are not worse off because they don’t have mothers and fathers.

"The witnesses are at the top of their fields," Mogill said. "They all know what they are talking about and don’t try to put a spin on it."

But Kristin Heyse, an attorney for the state, said Friday that the case is about studies that show children from opposite-sex marriages fare better in school and other aspects of life.

"It’s about science and data," Heyse said. "It’s about what’s best for the children of the state of Michigan."

Also, the attorney for Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown told the judge Friday that she will issue marriage licenses to "qualified" same-sex couples if Michigan’s ban is shot down in federal court.

"She is not required by law to follow the directives of any state official," lawyer Michael Pitt said. "Her oath does not permit her to discriminate against any couple trying to wed. She has testified she is ready now to carry out this duty."

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