The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that oversees Michigan will hear oral arguments this week regarding a series ofÂ decisions striking down state laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, preventing recognition of same-sex â€śmarriagesâ€ť from other states, or both. The most interesting may beÂ DeBoer v. Snyder, in which Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled the Michigan Marriage Amendment unconstitutional
The case began as a challenge by a same-sex couple to a Michigan law which limits adoption to single persons or married couples, thus preventing them from jointly adopting a child. Judge Friedman, however, â€śinvitedâ€ť the plaintiffs â€śto amend their complaintâ€ť against the adoption law and instead challenge the marriage amendment directly.
Apart from the case challenging Californiaâ€™s marriage amendment (Proposition 8), which the Supreme Court declined to decide on the merits last year, the Michigan case is the only one in which the District Court judge also decided to hold an actual trial with witnesses and evidence, rather than granting â€śsummary judgmentâ€ť based on legal principles.
Since the issue of homosexual couples raising children was central to the case, Friedman heard testimony from several expert witnesses on both sides regarding the social science research on outcomes for children raised by homosexuals. Psychologist David Brodzinsky and sociologist Michael Rosenfeld testified about studies purporting to show little to no difference in developmental outcomes among such children.
However, the state presented equally qualified scholarly witnesses to challenge the claim that there are â€śno differencesâ€ť between children raised by homosexual parents and those raised by their own, married biological mother and father.
As the judge noted, â€śfamily studies professor Loren Marks and economist Joseph Price questioned the validity of these studies [cited by Brodzinsky and Rosenfeld] in view of their statistical methodologies,â€ť such as small sample sizes, inadequate control groups, and the lack of â€śhardâ€ť outcome variables.
Price testified regarding an article he co-authored which â€śfound that children raised by same-sex couples have noticeably worse outcomes than children raised by heterosexual couples.â€ť Economist Douglas Allen testified regarding his own study using Canadian census data which showed that children raised by homosexual parents were less likely to graduate from high school than children raised in heterosexual married households.
Marks also cited an Australian study by Sotirios Sarantakos which found that â€śchildren of married [heterosexual] couples are more likely to do well at school in academic and social terms, than children of cohabiting and homosexual couples.â€ť
Sociologist Mark Regnerus testified about his groundbreaking â€śNew Family Structures Studyâ€ť (NFSS), published in the journalÂ Social Science ResearchÂ in 2012, which found numerous significant differences between children raised by parents who had a same-sex romantic relationship and children raised by an â€śintact biological familyâ€ť (that is, their married biological mother and father), almost all of which showed superior outcomes for the latter.
Judge Friedman was fawning in his adulation of the pro-homosexual witnesses, describing each as â€śfully credibleâ€ť or â€śhighly credibleâ€ť and attaching either â€śconsiderable weightâ€ť or â€śgreat weightâ€ť to their testimony.
On the other hand, he simply dismissed the other witnesses. Loren Marks (whose published critique of the pro-homosexual parenting studies is, in reality, devastating) was described as â€ślargely unbelievable.â€ť Furthermore, â€śThe Court was unable to accord the testimony of Marks, Price, and Allen any significant weight.â€ť
However, Judge Friedmanâ€™s attack on Mark Regnerus was completely over the top.
Unlike the previous studies on children of homosexual parents, Regnerus put together a representative, population-based sample that was large enough to draw scientifically and statistically valid conclusions. He also examined forty outcome measures, not just one or a handful. Because of these and other methodological improvements over previous studies, the Regnerus study stands as the gold standard in the field.