April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Michigan Lesbian couple, today filed an additional complaint in court during a news conference today. Besides their civil rights lawsuit to change Michigan’s state’s law barring same-sex couples from adopting, they amended their suit to declare Michigan’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional as well. They are challenging Governor Richard Synder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. They are the first, according to the Associated Press, to challenge the state’s ban, operative since 2004, on same-sex marriage. (See “April DeBoer And Jayne Rose, Michigan Lesbian Couple, Battle State’s Marriage and Adoption Laws,” Huffpost Gay Voices, September 7, 2012).
What They Want
The Hazel Park couple are fostering three “special needs” children: Nolan, 3, Ryanne, 2, and Jacob, 2. One adopted one child and the other adopted two, all because the law does not allow them to adopt the children together. They are concerned that because they are not legally married, if one partner dies, the other has no legal claim to the children she did not legally adopt. Only one of them can make legal and and medical decisions for each child. Their children could lose health insurance and other benefits that heterosexual married people automatically enjoy. Says April, ” for Jayne and I this fight is, and always will be, about the rights and protections of our children. It has never been about our rights.”
The state of Michigan wants Judge Bernard Friedman to dismiss a lawsuit that would challenge a ban on adoption for unmarried couples. One of five states that bans joint adoption by unmarried parents, Michigan, in the past seven years, has not passed any proposals introduced to allow second-parent adoptions. In 2011, two new state proposals House Bill 4249 and Senate Bill 169 were introduced that are sitting in committee.
What their Lawyer Says
The attorney acting on their behalf, Dana Nessel, states that “the state gave them children who had been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise. They are raising them with all the love, nurturing, care and affection that a parent would give to any child. But the state then rewards these women by telling them while they are good enough to foster as a couple, but not good enough to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter insanity.”
Stay tuned to this landmark challenge.