Michigan lesbian couple challenges state’s adoption, marriage laws


Staff Reports

DETROIT — A lesbian couple in Michigan, currently battling the state’s ban on adoption by unmarried couples, is expanding their fight to include a challenge against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, parents of three special-needs children, filed suit in federal court Friday, seeking to change the Michigan state laws that prevent them from marrying and adopting children.

Detroit Free Press

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, with their children Nolan, Ryanne and Jacob.

Attorneys for DeBoer and Rowse said they are amending their original complaint that asked to give them the right to legally adopt the children, and want the state’s ban on same-sex marriage declared unconstitutional.

The couple has been certified by the state as foster parents, but won’t allow them to adopt the children they have been raising since birth, because Michigan law only allows singles or married couples to adopt, reported the Detroit Free Press.

Together, they have been raising 3 1/2-year-old Nolan and 2 1/2-year-old Ryanne, who were abandoned at birth, and 2 1/2-year-old Jacob, who they have raised since he was four months old.

“The state gave them children who had been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise,” said their attorney, Dana Nessel.

“And they are raising them with all the love, nurturing, care and affection that any 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, they aren’t good enough to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter insanity.”

Nessel said that the state’s adoption law, coupled with the Michigan Marriage amendment, “creates a veritable catch-22 for gays and lesbians.”

“No couple can adopt unless they are married, yet no same-sex couple can ever marry. The combination of these laws does nothing more than destabilize otherwise loving and committed families like April and Jayne’s,” she said.

The couple from Hazel Park, Mich., is the first to challenge the state’s marriage amendment, which passed in 2004.

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