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Editorial: Amendment 3's hired guns backfire on Utah

Published March 26, 2014 2:26 pm

Utah's 'experts' have no credibility
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Late last year, a federal judge declared that Utah's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, Amendment 3, was unconstitutional. Late last week, another federal judge declared that Michigan's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, the Michigan Marriage Amendment, was unconstitutional.

That is, of course, an increasingly common event. What makes the Michigan case worthy of note is that Michigan's Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman did something that didn't happen in Utah. He put on a full-blown trial.

Friedman heard the experts testify, took their measure, watched as they were cross-examined, sometimes harshly, by the other side.

After the judge had taken all that in, he not only ruled against the ban, he also ruled that the "experts" who testified in favor of keeping it were, basically, liars.

At least two of the so-called experts that Friedman labeled "entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration," are also experts that the state of Utah and its high-priced special counsel are relying on to tell the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that it should overturn the ruling of Utah Federal Judge Robert J. Shelby and reinstate the ban.

One of those hired guns is Mark Regnerus, a sociologist from the University of Texas whose work, the judge ruled, was not objective science but fabrications commissioned by right-wing interest groups. Regnerus and his work have been disowned by his own academic colleagues.

Another is Douglas Allen, whose analysis the judge dismissed as fatally flawed. He looked at the lives of children who moved from one family to another and, sometimes, to another, absurdly concluding that it was the fact that some of the households included same-sex couples that left many of those children falling behind their peers in school.

He also testified that he thinks homosexuals are going to hell.

Judge Friedman, properly, put much more store in the advice of experts who told him that stability, not sexuality, is crucial to a child's healthy development. And the legal recognition of the same-sex marriages will provide stability to the lives of the growing number of children who will, whether governments like it or not, grow up in such households.

The judges of the 10th Circuit — and, when the case eventually gets there, the U.S. Supreme Court — will no doubt notice that some of the so-called experts upon whose wisdom Utah is basing its defense of Amendment 3 are widely considered to be charlatans.

Utah should realize that it has no case, and give it up.