Federal Judge Hears Testimony on Gay Marriage

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A lesbian couple from the Detroit area is suing the state, for the right to adopt each others children.

On Tuesday morning, outside the federal district courthouse in downtown Detroit, dozens of protesters carried signs. Many said they support traditional marriage, some expressed support for gay marriage. One group said they represented several churches from the Ypsilanti area. Rex Evans, of Freewill Baptist Church said, “The state of Michigan has already spoken on this issue, the people, the public has spoken, and God has spoken."

Judge Bernard Friedman heard Opening Statements Tuesday morning. The plaintiff’s attorney, Carole Stanyar has begun presenting her case. Family experts are expected to weigh in for both sides, on whether the state has a legitimate interest in restricting marriage to a man and a woman.

The couple who brought the case to court, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, have been together 8 years and share 3 children. They would like to make their parental bonds and their marriage bond legal. DeBoer says, “ Nothing says family like the marriage license that says that we are legally a family and that's what we're hoping for, and we think we're going to get."

Stanyar says she’s confident the Judge will strike down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. “We're very excited today. We're happy that everybody can join us for this historic occasion. This trial has been a long time coming. We're very much looking forward to presenting the evidence and the witnesses in this case and we are extremely optimistic that, when all the evidence has been heard, the trial has reached a conclusion, and the decision has been rendered and we'll finally join in with the many other states around this country, where gays and lesbians are considered to be equal citizens with everybody else and that their families, and their children can enjoy the same protections and the same rights that everybody else has.”

Emily Horvath, an Associate Professor of Law at Cooley Law School in Lansing, says the case represents a civil rights issue of our time. “What it’s going to come down to is a battle of experts. Right now the plaintiffs are presenting their experts saying that children are no worse off in same sex households, they're no worse off being raised by two mothers or two fathers. Then, the state, after the plaintiffs rest their case, the state will bring their experts, saying that yes, children are in fact worse off."

Assistant State Attorney Kristin Heyse is defending the ban passed by Michigan voters in 2004. She calls it a “Will of the people.”

Many legal experts expect the Judge to strike down the ban. The case will likely head to the federal appeals court, and eventually the nation’s highest court.