Television news stations in Michigan have been discussing the court’s ruling on today’s motions for summary judgment in DeBoer v. Snyder, a case that challenges the constitutionality of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in DeBoer v. Snyder, are the parents of three adopted children: DeBoer is the legal parent of R, and Rowse is the legal parent of J and N. Plaintiffs wish to obtain joint adoption of their children, but Michigan law prevents them from doing so. Under Michigan adoption law, a single individual or a married couple can adopt a child, but two single individuals cannot both adopt the same child. If plaintiffs were an opposite-sex couple, the solution would be simple: Get married. Unfortunately, DeBoer and Rowse, who have been in a committed relationship for more than six years, are both women and thus banned from marriage by a 2004 amendment to the Michigan constitution limiting marriage to “the union of one man and one woman”.
Plaintiffs sued defendants, Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan, initially requesting the ability to adopt their children jointly. They later amended their complaint to challenge the Michigan Marriage Amendment upon encouragement from the presiding judge—the Honorable Bernard A. Friedman. Plaintiffs argue that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, especially when considered in light of the Supreme Court’s recent pro-gay rights rulings in Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas and U.S. v. Windsor. Alternatively, defendants argue in part that the State has an interest in promoting natural procreation in the marriage relationship, and that plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.
Judge Friedman heard oral arguments on both parties’ motions for summary judgment this afternoon in Detroit. Meanwhile, same-sex couples waited eagerly at their county clerks’ offices to obtain marriage licenses from those clerks who had already expressed their willingness to waive the three-day waiting period and issue licenses immediately. Unfortunately for them, Judge Friedman denied the motions and set the matter for trial on February 25, 2014.
For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder and pending court dates, visit Equality Michigan.