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Professor defends homes led by gay parents in Day 2 of Mich. marriage trial

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Daniel Mears, APFrom left, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse with DeBoer's attorney Dana Nessel enter Federal Court in Detroit, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 before a trial that could overturn Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

Daniel Mears, AP
From left, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse with DeBoer’s attorney Dana Nessel enter Federal Court in Detroit, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 before a trial that could overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Updated: 3:55 p.m. EST

DETROIT — A sociologist testifying Wednesday at Michigan’s gay marriage trial said children raised by same-sex parents suffer no handicap when compared to other kids.

Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University said “there is no basis” for believing that kids develop better in a household led by a man and a woman.

“It’s clear that being raised by same-sex parents is no disadvantage to children,” he said, broadly summarizing research in the field.

Rosenfeld testified on the second day of a trial challenging a 2004 Michigan constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman. Two Detroit-area nurses are asking a judge to overturn it, saying it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In Texas, meanwhile, a federal judge said that state’s gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional, although he gave officials time to appeal an injunction signed Wednesday.

In Michigan, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer are raising three adopted children at their Hazel Park home, but they’re barred from jointly adopting them because same-sex couples can’t marry in Michigan.

Many questions at trial have focused on the well-being of children. State attorneys are defending the gay-marriage ban by saying voters wanted to encourage families led by a male and a female.

The issue for U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman is whether there’s a rational state interest in restricting marriage to a man and a woman.

While cross-examining Rosenfeld, Assistant Attorney General Kristin Heyse suggested it was rational for voters to approve the gay-marriage ban nearly 10 years ago because same-sex marriage in the U.S. was just emerging.

Rowse, 49, and DeBoer, 42, will not be testifying, although the state agreed with a statement read into evidence that describes them as “responsible and caring parents” who are providing a loving home to their children.

University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaran, who has much experience with the state’s foster-care system, testified that more children would be adopted if same-sex couples had the same joint-adoption rights as married heterosexual couples.

It is the first U.S. trial over a gay-marriage ban since a California trial in 2010, although federal judges in other ways recently have struck down similar bans in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia. At least 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow marriage by same-sex couples.

Follow the case: DeBoer v. Snyder.

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