Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a lesbian couple from suburban Detroit filed suit last Friday in Federal Court to challenge the constitutionality of Michigan’s 2004 law banning same-sex marriages. If they are successful, their suit will impact not only same-sex couples in Michigan, it would become precedent for other similar lawsuits across the country. Jayne and April did not originally plan on challenging the state’s marriage ban, they were seeking only to be allowed to adopt their three children as a couple, but fate intervened.
The New Civil Rights Movement first introduced you to lesbian Supermoms April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse last Mother’s Day, when we told you the story of how the two nurses single-handedly rescued premature newborn Jacob, who was a ward of the state. The Department of Social Services gave up on Jacob, asking April to take the baby home as a foster child to comfort while he died. When Jacob survived, the doctors predicted Jacob would never walk or talk. They again were wrong. The only thing more amazing than the feat of magic the couple performed in saving Jacob, who started preschool yesterday, was the fact they did it while they were saving Ryanne, the third child of a drug addicted teenage mother, who also needed special care. And by the way, they saved both Ryanne and Jacob while mothering baby Nolan, who had come to them a year earlier in a private adoption, and at last accounting, had taken two young, at risk, foster daughters into their home.
When last we checked in on the adventures of our supermom couple, they were engaged in a legal battle with the State of Michigan, because the state, which allows the women to foster children as a couple, will allow only one or the other to adopt each child. This means their children are being denied the same rights and privileges all the other children of two parent families have, and one thing you don’t want to do is mess with superheroes’ children.
With the help of lawyers Dana Nessel and Carole Stanyar, Jayne and April filed suit in Federal Court challenging the Michigan Law that does not allow the women to adopt as a couple. The State of Michigan countered with a request to dismiss the case, arguing the women’s claim that the children would be better off if both mothers were allowed to adopt was “speculation.” Two weeks ago, Judge Bernard Friedman heard oral arguments from both parties. In a surprise move, the conservative jurist, best known as the judge who struck down affirmative action at the University of Michigan, (later overturned by the Supreme Court,) suggested the women amend their complaint to challenge the underlying basis for the discriminatory adoption law: the ban on same-sex marriage.
Jayne and April were both stunned by the turn of events, as were their attorneys. Judge Friedman gave the women ten days to decide whether they wanted to broaden their fight to take on marriage equality, or have him rule on the original complaint. But of course, April and Jayne are superheroes, and fighting for justice is what superheros do.
Friday, September 7, Attorney Dana Nessel announced they had revised their original adoption suit to challenge the state law that forbids not only same-sex marriages, but civil unions, and domestic partnerships. With regard to marriage equality, Nessel called Michigan ‘The Mississippi of the North.” You can watch her announcement and catch a glimpse of the three DeBoer-Rowse angels in the video below
This will be the first legal challenge since Michigan’s ban on marriage equality passed in 2004. The attorneys say it may take years for the case to make it’s way through the courts, but the battle has been joined. Jayne and April are superheros, and when superheros fight for justice, they don’t give up.
Jean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
Radar and pregnancy images via freedigitalphotos.net
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