DETROIT — An attorney fighting the ban against gay marriage in Michigan suggested Wednesday that scientific beliefs evolve over time, as evidenced by the Salem witch trials and discredited notions that the world is flat.
The comment came during questioning from Carol Stanyar during the seventh day of trial at the federal courthouse in Detroit in a lawsuit brought by two Hazel Park, Mich., nurses, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who want to marry and adopt each other's children.
Stanyar was questioning Loren Marks, an associate professor at Louisiana State University, who wrote an article criticizing a statement from the American Psychological Association about the children of gay parents. Marks, in his article, was challenging the statement that "not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." Marks, who testified for most of the day, said he was struck by the absolutist tone of that statement and set out to test it, finding that research was inadequate to make such a claim.
Stanyar noted that there was a time when scientists believed the world was flat and that in the 1600s, during the Salem witch trials, some scientists would have believed in witches.
Marks replied that opinion is sometimes expressed as empirical evidence. Marks said his article was not really about gay and lesbian parents so much as seeking truth and that more research is needed before anyone can make sweeping statements.
"In some ways, my article is ... about the importance of validity or truth," Marks said. "I believe that truth is expensive, and we have not paid the required price in this issue."
Under questioning by Stanyar, Marks noted that he is "not in favor of redefining marriage at present" but does not have an opinion on adoption by gay couples.
The trial is to resume Thursday with testimony from Douglas Allen, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.