Their suit challenges the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan, where the state's constitution defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Attorneys for the women challenging the law, and those for the state defending it, will debate the reliability of studies purporting to show ill effects that same-sex unions have on children raised by homosexual or lesbian couples.
Testifying in favor of the ban will be four social science researchers who will cite evidence they claim demonstrates that children raised by same-sex couples do not fare as well as children with married heterosexual parents, the New York Times reported Sunday.
Scholars on the other side of the debate will argue that such studies are flawed and that when other factors are weighed, there is no evidence of harm to children of same-sex parents.
"The overwhelming evidence so far is that there's not much difference between children raised by heterosexual or same-sex parents," Andrew Cherlin, a prominent sociologist of family issues at Johns Hopkins University who is not involved in the case, told the Times.
The state's strategy is similar to that followed in California four years ago when defenders of the state's Proposition 8 argued that the ban on same-sex marriage was rooted in the state's compelling interest in protecting the welfare of children. In striking down the one-man and one-woman rule for marriage, adopted by California voters in 2008 as an amendment to the state constitution, Judge Vaughn Walker in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that "no reliable evidence" had been presented to demonstrate that "allowing same-sex couples to marry will have any negative effects on society."
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