Testimony: About 14,600 same-sex couples in Mich. - KMSP-TV

Testimony: About 14,600 same-sex couples in Mich.

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DETROIT (WJBK) -

A witness in the trial over the future of Michigan's gay marriage ban spoke with FOX 2, re-hashing some of the details he testified in court on Thursday.

Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at UCLA law school co-authored a book on demographics of the gay and lesbian population. He's used census data to study the characteristics of same-sex couples.

"In the U.S. there's about 650,000 same-sex couples and in Michigan about 14,600 same-sex couples," he says.  

About 20 percent of those same-sex couples are raising children under the age of 18, like the plaintiffs in this case - Jane and April DeBoer-Rowse who adopted three special needs kids. However, they can't adopt them jointly because of Michigan law.

Gates says studies show same-sex couples are far more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples, especially when they can do so jointly.

"In fact, they are a pool of potential parents for adopted children, particularly from the foster care system," he says.

Jane and April originally sued the state to jointly adopt their children but Judge Bernard Freeman encouraged them to challenge Michigan's ban on gay same-sex marriage, so this case really comes down to both issues. Bans on gay marriage have been struck down in numerous states, including Texas on Wednesday.

Gates says when gay marriage was legal in Utah for just 17 days that 30 percent of same-sex couples got married, and studies show gay people get married for the same reasons as straight people.

"Perhaps not surprisingly, the biggest reasons were love, commitment, wanting to share a life with someone," says Gates. He says gays and lesbians also listed legal rights and benefits as important as well.

"Even though the plaintiffs in this case are one couple that there's many, many other people out there who are affected by this decision," says Gates.

One more witness for the plaintiffs is scheduled on Friday, then the Attorney General will present witnesses starting Monday.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report

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