April DoBoer and Jayne Rowse wanted to create a family where both women could legally adopt their foster children together and maintain marriage equality. When the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the couple the chance, a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court now seems to be in order.
According to a press release, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the marriage equality case filed by Hazel Park, Michigan nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The two women are asking for legal security in protecting their marriage and family, including their four adopted children. And Michigan's legal limbo on marriage equality leaves hundreds of other marriages in question.
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DeBoer and Rowse are not willing to wait for the court systems to decide to reinstate a former ruling by Judge Bernard A. Freidman. Friedman found the bans on same-sex marriage "may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples" and absolute "guarantee of equal protection must prevail."
On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky based on voting rights instead of judicial review—and caused the couple's attorneys quickly filed a certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The SCOTUS filing notice has consolidated the hearing into two questions needing clarification:
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
In fact, the court's decision to hear the case at all was surprising. The Supreme Court had initially refused to review rulings in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits in October 2014.
DeBoer and Rowse believe in more than a single voter’s decision when deciding about the fate of a family.
Rowse said, "Our families, communities and the schools all see us as a family.” She added, “We juggle our jobs and a houseful of children and wouldn't have it any other way. Soon, we hope to have the same recognition and share the same protections and responsibilities as all other families."
And those securities are what their legal experts are trying to save.
The couple fostered and adopted four children with special needs, offering a loving home and space. Initially challenging the code that ruled out joint same-sex adoption, the women moved on to provide a lot more legally stable, balanced home that cis, heterosexual couples are naturally afforded.
Both DeBoer and Rowse want their children to be given the chance to have two legal parents and equal protection and due process of law.
Right now, the only way to achieve the goal is to challenge the same-sex marriage ban.
The couple are represented by Michigan attorney Carole M. Stanyar; Dana Nessel of Nessel and Kessel Law; Kenneth Mogill of Mogill, Posner & Cohen; Wayne State University Law Professor Robert Sedler; and Mary Bonauto of the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
"By choosing to hear the DeBoer case, the Court now has the opportunity to end the injustices facing gay families in Michigan and so many other states,” Nessel said. “And to ensure that same-sex couples nationwide are free to move for work, school, or to care for elderly parents without jeopardizing their family's security.”
While the case will not be heard for a while just yet, there’s hope for other couples. During an interview with the Detroit Free Press, DeBoer added, “We saw something that was wrong and we decided we needed to make it right.”
Nessel agreed. “If you are a person that is affected by these laws that discriminate against same-sex couples and their families -- if you are April and Jayne and their children -- this [decision] cannot possibly come soon enough.”
Mary Bonauto narrowed down the case to a simple, clear cut reason: "It is time to end the legal bans that single out same-sex couples for disrespect and instead allow them to make this unique promise to one another and provide greater protection and security for their families."
DeBoer and Rowse have been together for over a decade, building a life and home together. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case will provide the United States legal system a standard by which to proceed—pro-equality or not. All the couple wants is the chance to raise their children with love and security, just like any parent.
"This opportunity for our case to be heard by the Supreme Court gives us and families like ours so much reason to be hopeful,” DeBoer declared.
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