The couple who challenged Michigan's
gay marriage ban and in the process helped bring nationwide marriage
equality exchanged vows Saturday in Detroit.
In 2012, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse,
both registered nurses, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to jointly
adopt their their three foster children. Such adoptions are limited
to married couples in Michigan. At the suggestion of U.S. District
Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman, the couple later amended their
complaint to challenge the state's ban on gay nuptials.
“Little did I know that you would
bring me four beautiful kids … and drag me into the Supreme Court,”
DeBoer said in reading her vows. “I am honored to soon be your
legal wife. … You are my best friend. I promise to love you
forever. I can't imagine my life without you and without our kids.
I promise to stand by you forever.”
Friedman struck down Michigan's ban as
unconstitutional in 2014, but the Sixth Court of Appeals in
Cincinnati, Ohio later reversed his ruling.
The case reached the Supreme Court,
where it was heard along with similar challenges from three other
states – Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The high court in June
declared bans in all 50 states to be unconstitutional.
Friedman performed the couple's
ceremony and the lawyers who represented them in court served as
“They're so unbelievable,” Friedman
Detroit Free Press prior to the ceremony. “They always
take the road that is best for everyone.”
The Free Press reported that
community leaders donated more than $60,000 worth of goods and
services toward the wedding.
The women said that they were looking
forward to the conclusion of their journey.
“I'm really excited,” DeBoer told
reporters. “This is the first step in the final step we're looking
to achieve, which is to complete the second-parent adoption. I don't
think we ever expected this day to come.”