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Federal Judge Could Overturn Michigan's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage This Thursday: VIDEOS

Back in September I posted about April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Detroit couple suing the state of Michigan over its ban on gay adoption, who expanded their lawsuit to take on the state's marriage amendment.

LmcMotions which could be decisive on the matter are scheduled for March 7, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. at Wayne State University Law School, located at 471 W. Palmer Ave, Detroit Michigan, according to the couple's attorney Dana Nessel of Nessel and Kessel Law. Judge Friedman recently ordered a venue change to accommodate the public interest in the outcome.

Via press release:

The couple, who has been in a committed relationship for over 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 due to 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 (Nessel & Kessel Law) and Carole Stanyar (The Law Offices of Carole Stanyar) filed a complaint on behalf of April, Jayne, and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012, however, 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 voters in 2004, prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.

"As one of the most draconian bans in the nation, the amendment effectively prohibits any type of legal recognition or benefits for same-sex couples in Michigan," said Nessel. "Ironically, the State of Michigan found these women good enough to put their blood, sweat, and tears into raising these children together as foster parents. To now deny them the opportunity to both become legal parents to the children they love, and who are the only parents they have ever known, is totally irrational, and serves no legitimate purpose."

Watch the press conference held by the couple and their attorneys in September, as well as a news report broadcast a week before they decided to expand their lawsuit, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. This is worded funny, but we'll see how the judge rules on it. I expect it to be narrow.

    Posted by: Cecilfirefox | Mar 4, 2013 1:45:18 PM

  2. Motions are scheduled for March 7? Maybe a hearing on the motions already submitted? Not likely a decision on the 7th, but maybe a court order?

    What motions? Perhaps a link to the source of the press release would make this clear.

    Worth noting that Michigan Appelas Court ruled same-sex second patent adoptions Ok back in December.

    Posted by: Bingo | Mar 4, 2013 1:52:51 PM

  3. Nice to see an update on this. It still strikes me as strange (but awesome!) that the judge was the one who suggested increasing the scope of the case. Does this happen regularly?

    Posted by: K | Mar 4, 2013 2:08:17 PM

  4. It sounds like a meritorious case. It will be interesting to see whether such a draconian amendment will be allowed to stand in violation of minority rights.

    Lech Walensa should take note that minority rights must be respected not over run by a bullying majority.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 4, 2013 2:39:14 PM

  5. Wow, I'm IN Michigan and have heard nothing about this story! I will be watching the 'net for news on this later this week!

    Posted by: Ian | Mar 4, 2013 3:06:01 PM

  6. These three children are a shining example of the failure of the mother/father paradigm. Each one of these kids were failed by their biological parents and it's left up to this wonderful couple to step in and help them out.

    Posted by: Frank | Mar 4, 2013 3:42:06 PM

  7. The only motion scheduled for the March 7 hearing is defendants' motion to dismiss. So, even if the judge issues an order from the bench on this motion, all this will decide is whether or not the case will move forward. I don't see how, given the current status of the case, we could expect a ruling on the merits.

    Here is the order setting the hearing:

    There is only one motion to dismiss remaining, as the current (newly-elected) Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds decided not to proceed with the MTD and thus that motion (#45) has been withdrawn.

    Posted by: Kathleen | Mar 4, 2013 4:44:43 PM

  8. Kathleen: didn't the plaintiffs original pleading ask for the usual summary judgment?

    Posted by: Bingo | Mar 4, 2013 8:08:19 PM

  9. And here is what their attorney said back in September:

    “We’re asking that an order be entered enjoining these state actors from blocking the same-sex marriage of couples,” said Dana Nessel, one of the couple’s attorneys.

    Judge can enter that order if it appears likely their suit will succeed. They we move to a stay pending appeal.

    Posted by: Bingo | Mar 4, 2013 8:21:08 PM

  10. It's thanks to brave LGBT couples like this one who SINCERELY care about teir rights, but the rights of ALL gay people, that our movement and cause has momentum. It's those who care and are tired of being treated as second class citizens based simply on who they love....they are the driving force behind any movement.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Mar 4, 2013 9:13:04 PM

  11. BINGO, I haven't followed this case as closely as some others and, in general, I'm weak on procedure. However, I'm accustomed to seeing a motion for summary judgment separate from the original complaint when such a judgment is requested.

    As far as I can tell, the only pleading filed subsequent to the filing of the amended complaint (which was filed back in Oct '12 following the initial dismissal) is defendants' motion to dismiss. There hasn't been a motion for preliminary injunction or any motion for summary judgment.

    Again, not having followed this carefully, I suppose there's some procedure that transpired that I missed, but as noted above, the only motion on the calendar for the March 7 hearing is the MTD and plaintiffs' response to that motion concludes with only this: "Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court deny the Defendants’ motion to dismiss Count II of the instant complaint."

    Posted by: Kathleen | Mar 4, 2013 10:00:58 PM

  12. How dare these two women love and care for these special needs children who had been abandoned by their natural parents! Why it's positively unchristian.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Mar 6, 2013 7:18:23 PM

  13. KATHLEEN--I'm in Michigan and have a law background (but a rusty one, admittedly), and as best I can tell you're correct.

    IAN--It is really unfortunate how little coverage this has received. Unfortunately, the only progressive pockets in Michigan are in Ann Arbor and a handful of suburbs. Basically, wherever you have a college campus. The major news outlets have mostly had very little interest in the story.

    Posted by: Thomas | Mar 7, 2013 9:11:06 AM

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