Connections, rainbow or otherwise

I’ve spent some time this morning crying at weddings more than a thousand miles away. I’ll likely spend a lot of time this weekend doing that. A federal judge ruled yesterday that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional (given all the other rulings that isn’t much of a surprise).

Detroit Free Press and
Couples getting married in Michigan today.
He refused to issue a stay on the ruling, pointing to the evidence presented in the trial that denying the marriages causes harm to the thousands of Michigan children already being raised by same sex couples. This is different than other such rulings, or the situation in Utah where the state simply didn’t think to ask for a stay until the weddings had started.

The Court finds Sankaran’s testimony to be fully credible and gives it great weight. He testified convincingly that children being raised by same-sex couples have only one legal parent and are at risk of being placed in “legal limbo” if that parent dies or is incapacitated. Denying same-sex couples the ability to marry therefore has a manifestly harmful and destabilizing effecton such couples’ children.

The clerks in four counties, so far, have opened their offices on the weekend, to give out “no waiting period” marriage licenses. State and county officials have come in to work on their own time to facilitate the weddings. Judges, ministers, and other people legally authorized to perform the ceremonies have also come in to perform them. Ordinary citizens, some of them friends and families of the couples, but others just people who believe in equality, have come in to help, to congratulate, to cheer.

Couples who have been together over 50 years have been among the people married this morning.

My favorite part of this judge’s ruling (in his findings of fact—that will be very important during the appeals process), is his total evisceration of the notorious Regnerus study:

“The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 ‘study’ was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it ‘essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society’ and which ‘was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.’ While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this ‘study,’ he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general.”

(You can read Judge Bernard Friedman’s entire ruling here.)

A little girl with rainbow star stickers at a courthouse in Michigan with morning. (Photo by Steve Friess)
In case you are unfamiliar, Regenerus compared a few hundred children whose parents had divorced, and in which the non-custodial parent later came out as gay or lesbian, to a control group of children raised by parents who never divorced. Not surprisingly, the children whose early childhoods were disrupted by a divorce tended to have trouble in school and show the other typical problems that have been documented many time before when families experience “household instability and parental relationship fluctuation.” Regenerus then claimed that this proved that children raised by same-sex parents have worse outcomes than children raised by opposite-sex parents.

Except that this doesn’t show that, because none of the children in that group were actually raised by a pair of same-sex parents. None.

It is true that his study also included two children whose parents divorced and the custodial parent came out as lesbian. Those two children did spend part of their childhood being raised by their mother and her same sex partner. Regenerus was forced to admit under oath that these two children did better than average in school, and otherwise had “better outcomes” in all the areas he measured than the others.

So, the only children in his ‘study’ who actually were raised by a same sex couple were success stories, rather than the horror story he has claimed.

So far, every state that is defending bans against marriage equality has cited the Regenerus study, despite its having been debunked many times before this. As far as I can tell, this is the first time that a court has specifically gone into the reasons that they have not been persuaded by the study.

“The Washtenaw county clerk @kestenbaum hands out xeroxes of the 14th amendment, equal protection.”
Freelance journalist (and former POLITICO writer, and now an instructor at Michigan State University) Steve Friess has been at a courthouse in Ann Arbor covering the story all day. He posted a link to his dropbox folder containing photos he’s been taking all day, which he is offering free with attribution. But I think my favorite is one he tweeted earlier: a print-out of the 14th Amendment one of the county clerks is handing out, reminding us that this has nothing to do the activist judges, and everything to do with enforcing the constitution.

I’m going to go look at more wedding pictures. Pass me another box of kleenex.

Update: Alas, the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court has issue a stay at least until Wednesday, when they will hear arguments as to whether the stay should be permanent until the Appeals Court rules on the original case. It’s disappointing, though not entirely unexpected. I do have to re-ask the question of just what the attorney general requesting this stay hopes to accomplish? He can’t be so delusional as to think the the whole country is going to reverse course on this sometime soon, can he?

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