March 7th, 2014
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:
Friess is back live-tweeting closing arguments today, this time for Buzzfeed.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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