Deboer v. Snyder – Day 3 Update

Gary Gates testified for Plaintiffs.  Gary J. Gates is a recognized expert on the demography of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population.  He co-authored The Gay and Lesbian Atlas and publishes extensively on the demographic, geographic, and economic characteristics of the LGBT population.  Many national and international media outlets regularly feature his work.  He holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Heinz College of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University along with a Master of Divinity degree from St. Vincent College and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. (Bio taken from the Williams Institute website)

His testimony included statistics regarding number of same sex couples and individuals in the United States and in Michigan.  He also included statistics regarding parenting and adoption trends among LGBT individuals and couples.

He testified that the number of self-identified lesbian, gay and bi-sexual individuals has grown exponentially over the last 20 years.  From 1990 to 2000, the number doubled, and it doubled again from 2000 to 2010.  In 2010 there were over 14,000 LGBT people in Michigan.  Studies show that over that same period of time, social acceptance of LGBT individuals increased at the same rate.  This coupled with the fact that there are a greater percentage of younger people willing to self-identify (6.4% for ages 18-29) than older people (2.6% for people age 50-64 and only 1.9% for those over 65 years old) is indicative of social acceptance being a predominate factor in people being willing to self-identify as LGBT.

He testified as to the number of LGBT people raising children.  There are 3 million LGBT Americans who have ever had a child.  There are 220,000 children under age 18 that are being raised by same sex couples. According to the 2010 census, there are 2,650 same sex couples in Michigan raising over 5300 children.

In a survey of women who indicated their sexual orientation, lesbian and bi-sexual women were more likely than heterosexual women to be willing to adopt (46% LB women compared to 32% heterosexual women).  From that same group, the answers limited to lesbian participants showed a 51% willingness to consider adoption as opposed to 36% of the heterosexual participants.

Of the children being raised as an adopted child in a national survey, 14% were being raised by same sex couples and 3% were being raised by opposite sex couples.  In Michigan, those numbers are 11% being raised by same sex couples and 4% being raised by opposite sex couples.  Nationally, LGBT folks are two times as likely to raise foster children.  Under a 2012 census survey, same sex couples raising adoption children in a state where there is no marriage ban is 18% and in a state where a marriage ban is in place is 7%.

In a Pugh Research study, more than 50% of LGBT people already have one or more children or want to have children.

In 2012, 82,500 same sex couples were married in the US.  In 2013, 92,000 same sex couples were married in the US.  60% of same sex couples either are married or want to be married. The survey results showed that the top three reasons for wanting to marry, love, companionship and lifetime commitment, were relatively equal between the LGBT group and the heterosexual group.  The fourth category showed a marked increase in the LGBT group and showed that this group is more concerned with the legal rights and benefits of marriage than the heterosexual group.

In first year each of several recognition states allowed marriage, 30% or more of the same sex couples in that state got married.  After 3 years of legalization, more than 50% were married in Connecticut.  An amazing 1/3 of all same sex couples in Utah married within the 17 days between the Federal decision overturning their ban, and the point at which the decision was stayed by the US Supreme Court.

Married same sex couples are more likely to have health insurance for both adults and the children of the couple as well.  There are tax benefits for the family under a legal marriage, and there are higher average household earnings as compared to unmarried same sex couples.

He concludes that there are a significant number of same sex couples in the US and in Michigan.  There are an increasing number who are willing to self-identify.  Same sex couples want to have children and want to be married.  Lesbian and bi-sexual women in particular are more willing to adopt.  And, more children are adopted when barriers are removed.

On Cross Examination:  The AG questioned Dr. Gates about the survey samples and questioned, at length, about the problems inherent with the census survey; i.e., people answering incorrectly because they get confused or make mistakes.  There was also discussion about data cleansing procedures with the survey data, including inconsistencies in a household’s answer and the limitation of concepts that can be measured because of the way the questions are worded.  Dr. Gates explained that the Census Bureau has gone back to the 1990, 2000 and 2010 raw data and has re-evaluated and re-calculated results as a result of concerns with the way they had initially dealt with what were perceived to be obvious errors such as a household that reports two adults of the same gender and then indicated they were married on the 1990 census.  Initially, it was presumed that the gender of one adult had been mis-reported, and the survey “corrected” to show the proper gender.  These same kinds of answers in 2000 were “corrected” to show that the same gender couple reporting they were married was changed to “unmarried partners living together”.  More recently, they went back to review those corrected surveys and adjust the answers on the basis of the first name of the individual to see if that name is more often associated with a male or female.  This has been published as the “preferred” census data.

The AG asked Dr. Gates if one reason that heterosexual women were less likely to consider adoption is because “heterosexual women can have their own children”.  The question drew an immediate objection and was sustained by the Judge, although he said that Dr. Gates could give his personal view of that question.  Dr. Gates simply answered “No”.

The AG questioned Dr. Gates about his travel expenses and time being paid for by the Williams Institute, a known LGBT research foundation.  He said yes.  She asked if he had published a book called the Gay and Lesbian Atlas, and he said yes.  She asked if it was true that the publication had been funded by the Williams Institute, and he said no, it was actually the Urban Institute while he was employed there.  They asked if he had in fact donated to the campaign for marriage equality in DC and in California, and he said that he had.  They asked if he had contributed to HRC, and he responded yes, but it had been a long time ago.  When asked, he admitted that he had written amicus briefs on same sex marriage on behalf of the Williams Institute.

On Re-Direct – There was more discussion about the census.  Dr. Gates testified that in fact the United States relies and acts upon information in the census data, and the Michigan relies on and acts upon the information in the census data, as all state do.  He state that if the percentages are skewed as a result of the way the survey questions are drafted, that it has been corrected for, and that his analyses represent conservative interpretations of that data.

The Court then took care of a couple of housekeeping matters, including indicating that tomorrow (Friday, 2/28/14) will be the last of Plaintiff’s witnesses.  Court will start at 9am and will be done at least by 2 pm.  Monday next week will start with the defense presentation by the Oakland County Clerk and then move to the defense witnesses of the State.  The reports of Dr. Chauncy and Leslee Fitch will be available at the Court’s public website in lieu of their testimony.

2 thoughts on “Deboer v. Snyder – Day 3 Update

  1. Just before the day ended, the Court announced that one of the plaintiff’s witnesses, Dr. George Chauncey, a Yale University historian, who would not be able to appear in person had sent in written testimony. His testimony covered the lengthy history of discrimination LGBT people have experienced.

    Dr. Chauncey’s testimony can be found here.


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