Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 7, 2014

Judge: Gay marriage trial ruling within 2 weeks

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge said he expects to make a decision within two weeks of today's closing arguments in a challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

Attorneys presented scientific data, expert testimony and arguments about constitutional protections before Judge Bernard Friedman in the case that has attracted attention because other states with similar bans have been overturned recently in federal court.

Michigan voters approved the state ban in 2004, but Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, who live in a suburb just north of Detroit, 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 custody and other legal issues if one of the women died.

"We are hopeful we'll be on the right side of history," DeBoer told reporters outside the courthouse after today's hearing. "Everyone realizes that marriage means family, and that's what we want."

Ken Mogill, one of the attorneys representing the couple, told Friedman during his closing statement that there is no rational basis for Michigan's stance on gay marriage.

"The right to marry is a fundamental right that should apply regardless of sexual orientation," Mogill said.

Mogill also said 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.

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