Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 16, 2014

Jack Lessenberry: Schuette does not shine in court

The verdict is not yet in, but for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, last week’s high-profile same-sex marriage and adoption trial in federal court was not exactly a shining triumph.

In fact, the prosecution’s case seemed to have been largely an embarrassment. His first “expert witness,” a student named Sherif Girgis who attends both Princeton and Yale Universities, was ruled ineligible to testify after a couple of questions.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled, essentially, that Girgis was a bright young fellow who, however, was still a student and not yet able to appear as an expert witness about anything.

The prosecution’s last witness, a Canadian economist named Douglas Allen, presented a murky study showing there was no evidence that children of same-sex marriages did as well as those raised by heterosexual couples. Under cross-examination, however, he revealed that he believes gay people are going to hell.

So much for unbiased scientific testimony.

Bill Schuette is running for re-election this fall, and what may become an issue in his campaign is that the attorney general spent thousands of the state’s dollars to bring in these witnesses, along with one Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas.

Even before he testified, his university repudiated his views, as did the American Sociological Association. (Among the other things Regnerus opposes is in-vitro fertilization for married couples.)

This was not a jury trial, and we don’t yet know how Judge Friedman will rule. But the odds would seem to favor another setback for the attorney general and his cause.

Indeed, if supporters of same-sex marriage and adoption wanted an ideal couple to test the legal waters, it is hard to imagine a better couple than critical care nurses Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, who live in suburban Hazel Park.

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