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READ IT HERE: George Chauncey’s expert report submitted in DeBoer v. Snyder

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Michigan state sealOne witness for the plaintiffs in DeBoer v. Snyder, the Michigan marriage equality trial, was scheduled to testify and had to cancel. He submitted a report instead of testifying. Since he wasn’t there, there was no cross-examination.

Professor Chauncey is the Samuel Knight Professor of History & American Studies at Yale University. He has submitted reports and offered testimony in other same-sex marriage cases, as well as several DOMA cases.

His report in this case focuses on the long history of discrimination against gays and lesbians, from the early 1900s.

You can read his full report here:

2:12-cv-10285 Chauncey Expert Report by Equality Case Files

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing

For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. sfbob  |  March 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I didn't quite have a chance to finish reading Chauncey's statement but no matter. It is breathtaking in its scope and in its clarity. Chauncey is best known for his award-winning book "Gay New York" which documents gay life in New York City from 1890 to 1940.

    Read the statement; it's worth your time. I thought I knew everything there was to know but even I didn't realize that the state of Connecticut once refused to renew the driver's license of a person simply because he was known to be gay.

  • 2. Eric  |  March 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    As Douthat mentioned in his NYT piece, over the weekend, there has been a long history of animus against gays. And quite frankly, why I have no sympathy for those pushing "superstitious freedom" bills. It is time for the anti-gay to reap what they have sown and be treated as they have treated others, just as their sincerely held religious beliefs dictate.

  • 3. Straight Ally #3008  |  March 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    But really, the worst thing that can happen to their rank-and-file is to be required to *gasp* do business with gay people and take their money! In the larger scheme of things, their religious grifter organizations may not be able to scare up quite as much money, which is surely the underlying motivation.

  • 4. Shannon  |  March 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Wow, this is impressive. And I must say it makes me laugh to think how any 'expert' on the other side might attempt to write a similarly in-depth and thorough summary of history to try to support their point of view.

  • 5. Zack12  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I was too young to remember the AIDS crisis but in my lifetime, I remember DOMA being passed and state after state passing a marriage ban.
    It was painful to listen to us being described as a threat that had to be stopped and it working again and again.
    And the most painful memory of all, my spouse and I hoped to be able to marry in NY in 09 only to watch the Democrats in NY, the party that is supposed to be on our side stab us in the back.
    We got married two years later but it still stung to have that happen a year after Prop H8.
    Others have had it worse then us, but the bigots whining about how they've been wronged.. this report shows that as the joke it is.

  • 6. weaverbear  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Zack, you have my ear and sympathy. I grew up in NYC and entered high school in the Village 3 months after Stonewall happened. I was a college sophomore when the APA removed homosexuality per se from the DSM-II's list of mental illnesses. My own personal evolution has taken me from a man in the 70's who didn't understand why any gay person would want to get married and ape a heterosexual lifestyle, to today where I can look back and recognize it for what it was a self defense mechanism to not want what I could not have. Prop H8 was devastating emotionally (my husband and I are one of the 18K couples who married when we could.)

  • 7. sfbob  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I can't help but reflect on the fact that until at least into the 1990's (and no doubt to this day in some areas) no politician wanted to be seen as being overly friendly with the LGBT community or to publicly acknowledge our backing. Despite the disappointments during his time in office (DADT; DOMA), Bill Clinton was the first presidential candidate from either major party to publicly and openly court the LGBT vote (and, more importantly, LGBT money).

  • 8. Eric  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    The Libertarian party supported the LGBT community long before the Democrats began their tepid support.

  • 9. Steve  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Most American libertarians these days are right-libertarians who are every bit as insane as the teabaggers. They only care about freedom for the corporations. And they'd be happily oppressed by the states as long as they aren't oppressed by the federal government,

  • 10. Pat  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I have been following the live audition of Regnerus today on Twitter in the Michigan trial. It seems that the attorney did mention an article where he was mentioning porn. But I didn't see it mentioned anywhere if she brought up Regnerus's outlandish statement from a few weeks ago where he basically said that same-sex marriage would lead straight men to want more anal sex. It would seem like an obvious line of attack to discredit him, so I wonder if that was a missed opportunity or if I am missing something.

  • 11. Colleen  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I wondered that too. My guess (total speculation) is that the attorney wanted to bring Regnerus' wackiness to the judge's attention with that porn paper, which is directly connected to the group that funded his study, but calculated that grilling him on his weird views regarding straight men being swayed by the knowledge of gay sex would be an unseemly topic for the courtroom.

  • 12. Christian  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Not directly related, but Senator Mark Leno has introduced SB 1306 to repeal California's , now unenforccable, statutory bans on marriage equality and make all nuptial references gender-neutral.

    This comes after attempts in 2005 and 2006 to introduce marriage equality by legislative action only to be vetoed by then-Govenor Shwarzenegger.

    The bill will repeal Section 300 (AB 607 by Bruce Nestande, 1977), Section 308 (Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act, created after Strauss v. Horton by Mark Leono too) Section 308.5 (Prop 22, California Defemse of Marriage Act 2000, a voter initiative).

    It's kinda minor in importance, but I think it's good to clean the stain of prejudice off the statutes!

    4 for you Mark Leono, you go Mark Leno!

  • 13. Christian  |  March 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Forgive my random typos :p

  • 14. Eric  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Any efforts to backdate our marriages from the start of our domestic partnerships, as other states have done? Or to reinstate the 2004 marriages?

  • 15. wkrick  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Vermont never converted civil unions into marriages. If you have a Vermont civil union, you need to go to Vermont and get a marriage license and have a new marriage. It seems like a money grab to me. Probably designed to get more marriage tourism.

    The weird thing is that on the marriage application, you have the option of dissolving your civil union if you want, or you can chose to not dissolve it and have both a civil union and a marriage. Not sure what purpose that serves.

  • 16. RAJ  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    My husband and I live in California. We were advised that if we had a domestic partnership/civil union before our civil marriage to keep it, one reason being, during this "transitional" period, when traveling or moving, some jurisdictions may recognize that and not a marriage.

  • 17. Steve  |  March 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Still true. Nevada for example has a badly written DP law that recognizes out of state domestic partnership's, but doesn't automatically downgrade marriages (like some states do). Washington was the same before they fixed it (that was before they passed ME).

  • 18. Christian  |  March 5, 2014 at 2:05 am

    I have no source but I recall a legislator stating they have no intention to repeal the Domestic Partnership laws.

    I myself have urged my representatives to retain them, as I do not want a marriage and am in a DP (helped my bf from New Mexico get student aid).

    And as for the 2004 marriages, I think they were restored after In Re Marriage Cases. If not, if anyone still wanted to get married who originally received marriage licenses in San Francisco would most likely have done so May of 2008 or have gone to Massachussets.

  • 19. Lymis  |  March 5, 2014 at 6:38 am

    I think you might want to check into that. I don't think any of the 2004 marriages were held as retroactively valid. I vaguely recall some news relating to whether someone had to pay another license fee or whether it would be waived for the new one – but I could be wrong on that, too.

  • 20. sfbob  |  March 5, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Any number of my friends were married in 2004, only to see their marriages invalidated later on. Most of them married again in 2008, after Strauss vs Horton but before Prop 8; the rest got remarried after Hollingsworth vs Perry. While that might have been symbolic, I'm pretty sure that in fact their original invalidated marriages remained invalidated.

  • 21. JayJonson  |  March 5, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Isn't there a problem with repealing DP laws in California or civil unions in some other states, including Illinois, that are open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples? In some states, opposite-sex couples who are 62 or over can enter into a DP or civil union. In Illinois, both opposite-sex and same-sex couples can enter into a civil union at any legal age.

    I have always disliked allowing opposite-sex couples to enter into civil union or DPs simply to keep alimony payments or social security benefits that they would lose were they actually to marry, which was the justification for allowing opposite-sex couples access to DPs and civil unions. (And heterosexuals claim that WE want special rights!) But if some people want "marriage light" I don't know why they shouldn't be permitted to have it.

    In any case, in some states there would seem to be some ramifications for opposite-sex couples if DPs or civil unions are removed entirely. I think some states have ceased offering civil unions as they have adopted marriage equality even if they continue to recognize ones that were entered into earlier.

  • 22. Christian  |  March 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano argues that domestic partnership still serves a purpose. “It’s a choice people can make. Traditionally, it was only heterosexual couples who could get married, but it has never been that only LGBT couples could be domestic partners." Under state law, Ammiano contends, there is "no [contradiction] between the two statuses." Though they have disagreed on some issues in the past, Supervisor Scott Wiener shares Ammiano's point of view in this instance: “Domestic partnerships do still serve a purpose,” he says. “Some people, gay or straight, may not want to get married. For some, it may be a tax issue. For seniors, it may have to do with Social Security benefits. For others, it may just be a life issue.&rdquo ;

    Found my source ^^

  • 23. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Chancey paints an extremely grim picture, even for those cities now recognized as leaders in the ME movement (such as Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.).

    A major reason for the coastal cities having a greater GLBT community than other areas in large part is that they were the cities the troops came back to after WW II on the 'troop ships'. My father was on the ship that was the flag ship for the original Magic Carpet Ride, returning troops in the Pacific, especially Japan, to Seattle (the ship he was on was based in San Francisco/Oakland). When the troops disembarked and discharged (the term of enlistment or draft almost always was for 'the duration of the war'), they were given money for bus and/or train transportation home. Many didn't go home, but stayed in the cities on the coasts. Many went home, but because of the blatant discrimination at home (or in the home community), returned to live in the port cities where attitudes and life were a bit better than in other areas of the country.

    Philadelphia and DC were also early leaders in the battle for equal rights, but have now been overshadowed by other cities.

  • 24. AndyInCA  |  March 5, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Just finished reading the Chauncey Report. wow. Please do yourselves a favor and read this. It's one of the best pieces I've read recently… ranks ranks right up there with the Olsen/Boies opening brief in Perry.

    Thanks for making this available to us!

  • 25. Rick O.  |  March 5, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Grim picture indeed. June 26, 2013 (Lawrence v. Texas) wasn't very long ago, before which gays had real or potential criminal status in the U.S., which, to put it mildly, encouraged drunk bigots to try a little vigilante enforcement at any opportunity. '98 was Mathew Shepard in WY, and the last year a personal acquaintance (still in a wheel chair) was gay-bashed but it goes on (most recently NYC murder). I still don't put an HRC sticker on my car, still get an occasional piece of hate mail, and still read of bullying in the local high schools, street attacks in Denver. Subtle, unprovable job discrimination is rampant anywhere there are Mormon or evangelical bosses. Same-sex married and out at work? – you have just cut your carotid on the glass ceiling. It's 2014, but I still tell my lesbian daughter she MUST live on the west coast or in the NE if she wants to have a successful career.

  • 26. chrismac2  |  March 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    How anyone can read this and still claim that SSM-bans are not based on animus is beyond me. When you look at the struggles of gays and lesbians in an historical light such as this, in becomes crystal clear why these bans were passed.

    As Scalia said in his Lawrence v. Texas dissent 'But “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.'

    In reality, it's not just moral disapproval, I think it goes much deeper than that…..and they've only justified their dislike of homosexuals using the bible. If those verses were not in the bible, I dare say that we'd still be in the same place we are today–they just would have found some other verse to twist and misinterpret to justify their pre-existing beliefs.

  • 27. bayareajohn  |  March 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

    So… what's with the absence of coverage (even second hand) on Michigan's Deboer case?

  • 28. Bose_in_SP_MN  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Yeah, I *so* much appreciated the transcripts and am looking forward to reading Regnerus' testimony. MI Attorney Jane Bassett has done a great job through Day 6 here:

  • 29. bayareajohn  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    It certainly appears from the testimony put on by the state that the upshot argument will be:

    "It's very difficult and may take a very long time to find evidence of a reason to discriminate against gays. But we'll keep trying, and until we do, the fact that we believe that we might eventually find something that makes it reasonable to continue the discrimination we have put into our state laws. Oh, and God."

  • 30. bayareajohn  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Absolutely incredible finish to the cross examination of the economist Allen who's testified that he has no bias, and that although he concedes there is no statistically significant difference in SSM childrearing outcomes, there may be "some" difference he thinks we need to find significant…

    Mogill's last question:
    "Is the consequence of a homosexual act "eternal separation from God."

    Allen: "If it's not repented, yes."

    And there is it, the very last testimony laying bare the real agenda. God hates gay, statistics (the actual only tool of sociology and economy) really don't count.

    If this were a screenplay, it could not be more perfectly concluded. Re: Inherit the Wind.

    (Note, the first sentence above has been corrected to indicate that Allen was recognized as an expert ECONOMIST not a SOCIOLOGIST)

  • 31. Zack12  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I know some still question the judge's motives but I think a trial like this is just what we needed.
    If nothing else, the same arguments used to keep gays and lesbians from adopting are pretty much the same things that were used for Michigan's gay marriage ban.
    It's killing two birds with one stone.

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