Judge to rule soon on challenge to Mich. same-sex marriage ban - KMSP-TV

Judge to rule soon on challenge to Mich. same-sex marriage ban

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Jayne Rowse and April Deboer Jayne Rowse and April Deboer
DETROIT (WJBK) -

April Deboer and Jayne Rowse set out to jointly adopt their three precious children, but Michigan law will not let them. Why? They are lesbians, and Michigan law will not let them get married. So at the invitation of federal court judge Bernard Friedman, they are challenging Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"It has always been about our kids and our kids' rights. It is still about that first and foremost," said Rowse.

Judge Friedman said he would rule on Michigan law once the Supreme Court did so. The Supreme Court's ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act addresses some of the same issues, saying DOMA humiliates and brings financial harm to the children of same-sex couples, raises the cost of healthcare for families, and denies benefits afforded to heterosexual families, exactly what this Michigan case is fighting for.

"As it is in Michigan right now, there is no possibility for any type of legal recognition for April and Jayne or for any families like theirs, and that's why this case is so important," said attorney Dana Nessel.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette released a statement saying, "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states, not the federal government, retain the constitutional authority to define marriage. Michigan's Constitution stands, and the will of the people to define marriage as between one man and one woman endures in the Great Lakes State."

It is true the Supreme Court said states have authority over marriage, but it must not be in violation of basic rights.

"State laws defining and regulating marriage must respect the constitutional rights of persons," said Wayne State University constitutional law expert Robert Sedler. "Today's decision in the DOMA case provides strong support for the claim that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection."

Whatever happens in the Michigan case, it will be appealed, but the attorneys believe they will ultimately be successful if they have to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

"We have the worse laws in the country. It makes for an easier challenge. So we have no domestic partnerships, we have no civil unions, and so for that reason, this case is really the cleanest case that could go up through the court system," Nessel said.

But for now, the next move belongs to Judge Bernard Friedman, and a ruling is expected within the next few weeks.

"We're hoping that Judge Friedman has received the answers that he needs and the guidance that he needs to overturn this so that our children have the same rights as everybody else," Deboer said.

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