A lesbian couple in Michigan has challenged a same-sex marriage ban that also prevents them from jointly adopting their three children together as a couple.
On a short road trip with the family, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer were driving when an oncoming car almost crashed into them head on, but swerved and missed at the last moment. The experience not only shook the couple but also made them realize that they needed to take action for their kids in the event that something were to happen to one or the other.
Rowse and DeBoer have been together for over 13 years and have two sons, 4-year-old Nolan and 3-year-old Jacob and a daughter, 3-year-old Ryanne. Although, they consider all three kids theirs, Rowse is legally the boys’ legal parent and DeBoer is legally Ryanne’s.
In the case of a fatal accident, the children belonging to the deceased would be put into foster care because the law in the state of Michigan prohibits same-sex couples from marrying and jointly adopting.
Rowse and DeBoer filed a lawsuit against the state, and what began as a fight to officially make their family one unit became a national story about overturning the ban on same-sex marriage and, subsequently, adoptions.
US District Judge Bernard Friedman was the one who invited the couple to broaden the case from an adoption issue to a case that would help overturn the ban on same-sex marriage.
“When they came to me,I had to tell them that no matter what we drafted, they couldn’t ensure that if something happened to one or both of them, their kids would stay together,” said Rowse and DeBoer’s lawyer, Dana Nessel, in an interview with Detroit News. “Michigan is a scary place for gay and lesbian parents.”
DeBoer said that getting married would be a plus, but their main concern is to keep their family together.
Friedman heard the case today and decided to wait on his decision until after the Supreme Court hears two federal cases on Prop 8 and DOMA in June. He said he will be watching the cases closely hoping to make a better decision based on the higher court’s ruling.