Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Trial Ends With A Bang

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2014

So this happened:

Michigan’s gay marriage trial ended on an explosive note today, with the state’s final witness saying he believes unrepentant homosexuals are going to hell.

His views emerged following a question from plaintiffs attorney Ken Mogill, who is fighting to overturn Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.

“Is it accurate that you believe the consequence of engaging in homosexual acts is a separation from God and eternal damnation?” Mogill asked the state’s expert, then added, “in other words, they’re going to hell?”

“Without repentance, yes,” answered the expert, Canadian economist Douglas Allen, the last witness to testify on behalf of the state in a trial that could make Michigan the 18th state to legalize gay marriage.

Things didn’t go well at all for the State of Michigan, which is defending the ban in Federal Court. The State’s first witness, a philosopher from Princeton, was disqualified as an expert witness. That testimony was supposed to tee-up Mark Regnerus, the author of the widely discredited report alleging that children of same-sex parents have poorer outcomes, to take the stand for the first time since the report’s publication. But just before Regnerus took the stand, his colleagues at the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas issued a statement distancing themselves from his testimony:

Like all faculty, Dr. Regnerus has the right to pursue his areas of research and express his point of view.  However, Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department of The University of Texas at Austin.  Nor do they reflect the views of the American Sociological Association, which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families.  We encourage society as a whole to evaluate his claims.

That set the stage for Regnerus’s testimony:

Critics said Regnerus’ 248-person study included just two who had been raised from birth to adulthood by gay couples. When asked Monday how those two fared, Regnerus replied, “Pretty good.”

On Tuesday, (ACLU attorney Leslie) Cooper asked Regnerus how big a study would need to be to satisfy his curiosity about child welfare and how much it would cost. He said it would cost tens of millions of dollars over several years. Cooper asked whether he believed such funding could be approved, and Regnerus said it was unlikely.

“So,” Cooper asked, “if a nationally representative, large-scale longitudinal study is never done because it’s too expensive, is it your opinion that same-sex people should never be allowed to marry?”

Refusing to answer that question, Regnerus deflected into mumbo-jumbo about “common expectations about marriage.” He was also asked about other types of families: poor families, less educated families, remarried families, where statistics also show poorer outcomes in children. Should they be barred from marrying for the same reasons?

Regnerus said no regarding the poor and less educated, but said he didn’t have an opinion about heterosexual remarriage.

“You don’t have an opinion whether prior divorced people should be allowed to get married?” Cooper asked.

“It exists,” he said. “I don’t think much about that … I think it would be nice if (couples) can work it out.”

Regnerus also insisted he hadn’t formed an opinion on whether it is better for a child in foster care to remain in a foster home or be adopted by a same-sex couple.

Throughout the proceedings, Regnerus stuck to his insistence that biological, intact families are best and that anything else, including adoption, is “a concession.”

It was an excruciating grilling, which the free-lance reporter, Steve Friess, live-tweeted on Monday and Tuesday:

Caught Regnerus leaving courtroom. Seemed rattled. Asked how he felt, he said, "Relieved." Were you nervous? "No comment." Walked away.

Friess is back live-tweeting closing arguments today, this time for Buzzfeed.


March 7th, 2014

Another very important fact is that it’s now established that the Heritage Foundation is behind all this:

Also note that the Alliance Defense Fund and Maggie Gallagher are involved too.

As an ultra-fundamentalist Catholic Regnerus no doubt beliefs that divorced people shouldn’t get remarried. He all but said that they shouldn’t get divorced in the first place, which is a horribly inhumane idea. It’s also really bad for the children, who pick up on friction between their parents at a very early age. More proof that he doesn’t give a shit about children, but just hates gay people.

Craig L. Adams

March 7th, 2014

Thanks for reporting on this, Jim. I hadn’t been following the news about this trial.


March 7th, 2014

First there is a disqualified philosopher followed by Mark Regnerus who has been essentially thrown under a bus by his own university department and the national organization and then a Canadian economist who believes gays are going to hell. If you had added that they wanted to put the minister of medicine for Uganda on the stand to testify I would have known I was going down the rabbit hole with no possibility of return.
I feel sorry for the judge who had to listen to this bilge.


March 7th, 2014

…suggest you go to the website of the certified anti-gay hate group, “Ruth Institute” and check out who is in its’ “Circle of Experts”……….

enough already

March 8th, 2014

I wonder if all this self-congratulatory back-patting is not premature?
What do we know about the judge? Is he not a very far right, ultra-conservative Christian?
We’ve seen Mormon judges take Regnerus’ study as ‘gospel truth’ (maybe it’s one of the texts dear Mr. Smith ‘lost’).
I won’t rest easy until we hear the judgement. Of course, the Christians will appeal it, as they always do.
Question: What ever happened to the Florida case in which the judge ordered Regnerus’ papers be turned over to the court?


March 9th, 2014

enough already: the judge is a conservative, but he is not a Christian. He is a Jew. I do not think that he is going to be impressed by Allen and Regnerus’s faith-based sociology.

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2014

Reminder: this case was not originally a marriage case.

The law in Michigan prohibits second parent adoption to non-spouses. The lesbian couple sued to get joint parental rights, claiming that the law discriminated against them on the basis of sexual orientation.

Judge Friedman told them that their problem wasn’t with the adoption laws, which wasn’t discriminating against them on the basis of sexual orientation. Rather, their problem was that the marriage laws didn’t let them meet the criteria due to anti-gay discrimination. And then he told them that if they wanted to refile the case as a marriage discrimination case he’d hear it.

The presumption is that the judge is willing to overturn the anti-gay ban.


March 9th, 2014

Does anyone know if there is a transcript of Regnerus’ testimony available online ?


April 30th, 2014

If gay-marriage is to be legalized and homosexuality made acceptable in society, is there any legal reason as to why we should ban incest, pedophilia, sex with animals, necrophilia etc ? After all they too are just other forms of love, sexual orientations, sexual preferences and other “norms” ? Moreover, if gay-marriage is legalized, should bisexual-marriage also be legalized so threesome marriages be normalized like in Brazil ?

Timothy Kincaid

May 1st, 2014


You are factually mistaken. Three person marriage is not legal in Brazil. In fact polygamy is only legal in parts of the world (such as Africa and the Middle East) which are extremely hostile to homosexuality. There is a correlation between anti-gay laws and polygamy.

Ben in Oakland

May 1st, 2014

Paul, dear…

Of a man can marry a woman. Why can’ the marry three?

Answer that, and you’ll have a point.

Ben in Oakland

May 1st, 2014

And Paul,

You might want to google “christian polygamy in Africa”.

Richard Rush

May 1st, 2014

Paul, you fell right into the trap of unwittingly admitting that you have no genuine arguments against same-sex marriage. If you did have genuine arguments, you wouldn’t have had to immediately segue into talking about irrelevant things in order to scare gullible people. If you want to talk about the merits of legalizing man/dog marriage, please feel free, but don’t pretend it has something to do with two adult men or women building a life together.

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