MI Same-Sex Marriage Ban Challenged?

April DeBoer, Jayne RowseRecently, two Detroit nurses challenged the State of Michigan’s adoption law. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple in the Detroit area filed a law suit challenging the state’s adoption laws so they both can be legal parents of their children.

A 2004 Constitutional Amendment banned same-sex marriage in the State of Michigan. The couple’s lawsuit took a dramatic turn. Since the State of Michigan has a same-sex marriage ban, they cannot jointly adopt their children.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will heard arguments on the case Thursday at a Detroit law school, although he hasn’t indicated when he’ll make a ruling. He concludes the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, gay-marriage supporters say same-sex couples would immediately be allowed to wed and adopt children.

Rowes and DeBoer have been together for 6 years. They cannot adopt each other’s children because Michigan law will not allow them to marry. If either woman died, the other would not be instantly recognized as the legal parent of the remaining children, even if instructions were spelled out in a will.

“One of our big concerns is they consider themselves siblings,” Rowse said of the children. “They could be separated. That’s not fair to them. They’re brothers and sister.”

Currently, according to the Huffington Post, 16 States as well as the district of Columbia allows same-sex couples to adopt jointly. During a court hearing in August, the judge suddenly changed the case – and raised the stakes – when he said Rowse and DeBoer should consider challenging Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, which was approved by 58 percent of voters nearly a decade ago. So they expanded their lawsuit to claim the prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it treats same-sex couples differently than heterosexual married couples.

“Michigan’s marriage amendment bears a reasonable relation to legitimate state interests,” the state said. “Michigan supports natural procreation and recognizes that children benefit from being raised by parents of each sex who can then serve as role models of the sexes both individually and together in matrimony. Plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing there is no rational basis for these legitimate state interests.”

Friedman will hear arguments on the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. In a court filing, the Michigan attorney general’s office said there’s no “fundamental right to same-sex marriage.”

The judge states that he will not make any decision on the case until the US Supreme Court has made a ruling in the DOMA case.

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