Judge could rule on challenge to state's gay marriage ban - WNEM TV 5

Judge could rule on challenge to state's gay marriage ban

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DETROIT, MI (WNEM) -

Two southeastern Michigan residents are challenging the state's ban on gay marriage.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are challenging Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, as well as its adoption code that prohibits them from adopting their children together.

The couple, who have been in a relationship for more than a decade, has three special-needs children.

DeBoer, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Rowse, an emergency room nurse, became licensed as a couple to be foster parents. Within a year and a half, they welcomed three newborns who had been abandoned or surrendered at birth. The children faced long-term physical and mental impairments because of prematurity, little or no prenatal care, maternal drug use and other complications.

DeBoer and Rowse's desire to jointly adopt all three children would establish each parent's legal claim and relationship to their children. Currently one has adopted two of the children and the other has adopted one. April and Jayne asserted that the Michigan Adoption Code, which prohibits joint adoption for their kids and thousands of other children in households like theirs across the state, violates their right to equal protection under the United States Constitution.

"Jayne and I love our children as deeply as any other parent loves their kids," said DeBoer. "We just want our children to have the same protections all other children have, so that our kids know they can never be taken from either of us."

Attorneys Dana Nessel and Carole Stanyar filed a complaint on behalf of DeBoer, Rowse and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012. At the behest of Judge Bernard Friedman, the pleadings were amended to challenge the same-sex marriage ban, significantly expanding the scope of the case.

Michigan's Marriage Amendment, approved by 58.6 percent of voters in 2004, prohibits same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.   

"The children of gays and lesbians in Michigan are forbidden from having two parents," said attorney Carole Stanyar. "Michigan is one of only a handful of states left in the country that allows no mechanism for the legal recognition of two parents of the same sex, meaning that whether same-sex couples adopt or one of the partners conceives a child biologically, only one partner can ever have a legally recognized relationship with that child."

Friedman could rule on the case Thursday, March. 7.  

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