U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman
will hear arguments Thursday in a case challenging the
constitutionality of Michigan's 2004 voter-approved amendment
limiting marriage to heterosexual unions.
At the suggestion of Friedman, April
DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park amended their
lawsuit seeking to jointly adopt their three foster children to
instead challenge the state's marriage ban.
“This is not the road we thought we'd
go down,” Rowse, 48, told the Detroit
Free Press. “We thought Judge Friedman would rule one way
or the other on second-parent adoption. No one anticipated this. It
was out of left field.”
“I know we're taking on a bigger
issue with same-sex marriage,” DeBoer, 41, said.
Because they aren't married the couple
cannot jointly adopt Nolan, 4, Jacob, 3, and Ryanee, 3.
“The state gave them children who had
been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise,” said
lawyer Dana Nessel. “And they are raising them with all the
love, nurturing, care and affection that any parent would give to any
child. But the state then rewards these woman by telling them while
they are good enough to foster as a couple, they aren't good enough
to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter
Michigan attorney general's office has
asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying there is no “fundamental
right to same-sex marriage.”
In a court filing, the state argued:
“Michigan's marriage amendment bears a reasonable relation to
legitimate state interests. Michigan supports natural procreation
and recognizes that children benefit from being raised by parents of
each sex who can then serve as role models of the sexes both
individually and together in matrimony. Plaintiffs fail to allege
facts showing there is no rational basis for these legitimate state
There is no timeline on when Friedman
will rule on the matter.