Michigan Marriage Challenge 2013
April DeBoer, Jayne Rowse and their supporters worked to overturn Michigan’s Marriage Amendment.
This was their website, created to get out the word about their case and ask for financial help via fundraising or by donation.
Content is from the site's archived pages, as well as from other sources.
FYI: April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse won the fight for marriage equality at the Supreme Court, but other battles remain.
An aside: Jump ahead to 2021. With the Supreme Court now dominated by conservative judges and with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett in the Fall of 2020, the LGBTQ advocates are fearful the Supreme Court may roll back protections. Barrett’s refusal to say Obergefell was correctly decided frustrated Senate Democrats and alarmed LGBTQ activists, who worry about her elevation to a Supreme Court that has only three justices remaining from the five-member majority in the 2015 decision. My mother and I were recently discussing the newest member to the Supreme Court via Facetime. With the Covid 19 pandemic still not under control and the vaccines just beginning to be rolled out, the assisted living residence where my my lives still has restrictions in place regarding in person visits. Hart Heritage Estates, here in Forest Hills Maryland has already vaccinated all its staff and residents, but until the pandemic is under control, my mother and I Facetime almost every day.
During the Senate hearings Judge Amy Coney Barrett twice used the term sexual preferences to describe those in the LGBTQ community which I, like many other people found to be not only offensive, but also outdated term. I applauded Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who really hit Judge Amy Coney Barrett with some withering remarks.
On November 4, 2020 the Supreme Court heard a case that could allow private agencies that receive taxpayer-funding to provide government services — such as foster care providers, food banks, homeless shelters, and more, to deny services to people who are LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon. The case has not yet been decided. As a gay woman who fosters young children, I am following this case, as well as any other cases before the Sumpreme Court that would impact the LGBTQ community. Many expect Barrett to favor an "expansive view" of the free exercise of religion and to favor overturning lower court rulings that sided with the city of Philadelphia, which terminated its contract with Christian Social Services for foster care services after it refused to work with same-sex prospective parent. As you can see, my mother and I don't just discuss the weather and how she is feeling. Fortunately she is very happy at the Harford County facility with its 6.5 acres of park-like grounds and wonderful staff. I feel fortunate she is there and being taken well care of.
Marriage Matters to April and Jayne
Please Spread the Word
The trial concluded on Friday, March 7. On March 21, Judge Friedman ruled that there is no rational basis for the Michigan Marriage Amendment and that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
We expect an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately, the case may be decided in the United States Supreme Court. The time expected for the appeal could range from six months to two years.
About April and Jayne
April and Jayne have been in a committed relationship for over a decade, and together are raising three special-needs children. DeBoer, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Rowse, an emergency room nurse, became licensed as a couple to be foster parents. Within a year and a half, they welcomed three newborns who had been abandoned or surrendered at birth. The children faced long-term physical and mental impairments due to prematurity, little or no prenatal care, maternal drug use, and other complications.
April and Jayne love their children as deeply as any other parent loves their kids, and want their children to have the same protections all other children have, including knowing they can never be taken from their family and each other.
DeBoer and Rowse’s desire to jointly adopt all three children would establish each parent’s legal claim and relationship to their children. Currently one has adopted two of the children and the other has adopted one. Unfortunately the Michigan Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption for their kids and thousands of other children in households like theirs across the state, violating their right to Equal Protection under the United States Constitution. The law is discriminatory, irrational, and only has the effect of hurting children and destabilizing families.
In addition to the impact on committed couples, in effect, the children of gays and lesbians in Michigan are forbidden from having two parents. Michigan is one of only a handful of states left in the country that allows no mechanism for the legal recognition of two parents of the same sex, meaning that whether same-sex couples adopt or one of the partners conceives a child biologically, only one partner can ever have a legally recognized relationship with that child.
ABOUT THE CASE
With the proper presentation, the opportunity to prevail and win a ruling in favor of April and Jayne is extremely likely. The trial is scheduled to begin on February 25, 2014
April, Jayne, and their supporters are working to overturn Michigan’s Marriage Amendment, approved by voters in 2004, which prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, as well as alter Michigan’s adoption code that currently denies rights and benefits to the children of gay/lesbian couples.
Judge Friedman has ordered that the case go to trial. The trial is scheduled to begin on February 25, 2014, and will be similar to the trial conducted in opposition to the Proposition 8 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage held in California. The primary issue in dispute is whether gay and lesbian couples are competent and qualified to parent children, and whether or not the state of Michigan is justified in prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting, marrying, and forming legal families.
An extensive number of witnesses are expected to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs, including sociologists, psychologists, child welfare workers, adult children raised by same-sex couples, and a myriad of other witnesses who will testify that gays and lesbians are no less loving or nurturing than their heterosexual counterparts, and that their children are just as well adjusted as those raised by opposite-sex couples.
The cost of such a trial is certain to be monumental. To date, April and Jayne have not received financial assistance from any LGBT or civil rights organizations, and their attorneys have worked pro bono on this matter for nearly 3 years. As nurses raising 3 special needs children, the expense of pursuing litigation of this magnitude is extraordinary.
With the proper presentation, the opportunity to prevail and win a ruling in favor of April and Jayne is extremely likely. Such a ruling will mean that all same-sex couples in Michigan will have the opportunity to marry and adopt children. This case presents the best, easiest, and earliest opportunity for marriage equality in Michigan. Further, it is likely that this case will ultimately be the precedent setting case that moves on to the United States Supreme Court in order to make marriage equality the law of the land for all 50 states.
Although the initial complaint filed on behalf of April, Jayne, and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012 intended to secure these rights, at the behest of Judge Friedman, the pleadings were amended to challenge the same-sex marriage ban, significantly expanding the scope of the case. As one of the most draconian bans in the nation, the amendment effectively prohibits any type of legal recognition or benefits for same-sex couples in Michigan
Ironically, the State of Michigan found these women capable enough to put their blood, sweat, and tears into raising these children together as foster parents. To now deny them the opportunity to both become legal parents to the children they love, and who are the only parents they have ever known, is totally irrational, and serves no legitimate purpose.
Please help April and Jayne pursue this case as long as they are able.
Michigan Marriage Challenge 2013 Go Fund Me / April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are fighting for their family in the state of Michigan, which has some of the nation's most stringent and regressive laws and policies in the country in regards to the LGBT community and their children. The case has moved through the federal district and appeals courts, and the attorneys for the case are in the process of applying for review by the US Supreme Court.
April and Jayne are a lesbian couple who have been in a committed domestic partnership for over a decade. They live in south-eastern Michigan. April is a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Jayne is an emergency room nurse. They are also licensed foster parents. Together, April and Jayne have taken in three special needs newborns who were abandoned at birth by their mothers. The babies were born premature, drug-addicted, and with a host of long-term physical and mental impairments.
DeBoer and Rowse's desire to jointly adopt all three children would establish each parent's legal claim and relationship to their children. Currently one has adopted two of the children and the other has adopted one. Unfortunately the Michigan Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption for their kids and thousands of other children in households like theirs across the state, violating their right to Equal Protection under the United States Constitution. The law is discriminatory, irrational, and only has the effect of hurting children and destabilizing families.
April, Jayne, their attorneys and supporters are working to overturn Michigan's Marriage Amendment, approved by voters in 2004, which prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, as well as alter Michigan's adoption code that currently denies rights and benefits to the children of gay/lesbian couples.
The initial complaint was filed on behalf of April, Jayne, and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012. The case of Deboer v. Snyder was decided by Judge Bernard Friedman in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on March 21, 2014. Judge Friedman ruled that there is no rational basis for the Michigan Marriage Amendment and that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
The state of Michigan appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and arguments for both sides were presented on August 6, 2014. The Sixth Circuit Court issued a ruling on November 6, 2014 upholding the Michigan Marriage Amendment. The attorneys for the DeBoer case announced a decision to appeal to the US Supreme Court on the same day.
Please help April and Jayne pursue this case. So far their legal team has been representing them for free, but legal cases like this get very expensive and include fees for expert witnesses, court costs, etc. This puts a huge burden on the April & Jayne, and the attorneys who need to earn a living, pay their bills and take care of their own families and children. These attorneys have worked tirelessly and selflessly to fight for April and Jayne, and ultimately the rights for all LGBT citizens, unmarried heterosexual couples wishing to co-adopt in Michigan, and the children deserving of two loving, legally recognized parents.
Please donate whatever you can. Even just $10 - $20 will help keep this legal challenge moving forward! They are preparing to take this to the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's keep the positive momentum going!! Please forward this campaign to as many people as you know. If you can't afford to donate now you can still help by spreading the word. With everyone's help we CAN achieve equality and justice!
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse Wedding 8-22-2015
The historic wedding ceremony of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowseâ€‹, the Michigan lesbian couple at the center of the Supreme Court case that won marriage equality throughout the United States. The couple married at Pi Banquet Hall in Southfield, MI on 8-22-2015. They will henceforth be known as April DeBoer-Rowse and Jayne DeBoer-Rowse. Officiating was District Judge Bernard A. Friedman, who ruled on 3-21-2014 in favor of the couple's challenge to the Michigan Marriage Ban following a 2-week Detroit trial in Michigan's DeBoer v. Snyder case. The couple's five attorneys signed the marriage license: Carole Stanyar, Dana Nessel, Ken Mogill, Bob Sedler and Mary Bonauto. District Judge Judith Levy oversaw the signing.
The couple's four adopted children, Ryanne, Nolan, Jacob, and Rylee said vows of their own. As per the couple's request of reporters and social media postings to not publish any photos or name of child #5 currently in the process of adoption,
The service was by moments touching and funny. My favorite humorous moments included Jacob yawning after Friedman mentions "debt of gratitude", Jayne responding "You're welcome." after April thanks her for dragging her before Supreme Court, vows interrupted for Jacob's potty break, Rylee's insistence on carrying Jayne's prior day birthday balloon rather than flowers, Judge Friedman adlibbing about April's father and former marine as the "potty captain" with the rings, and Rylee trying to say "to be my legal mommy" in her vows.
Thank you April and Jayne for fighting to protect your family and in the process changing the lives of millions of Americans for the better. The Michigan case was consolidated with cases from three other states as Obergefell v. Hodges. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-26-2015 that state laws banning same-sex couples from legally marrying or refusing to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere are unconstitutional. We all owe April and Jayne a huge debt of gratitude.