LGBT — March 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

UPDATED x2: Lesbian couple in Michigan will challenge state’s ban on same-sex marriage at judge’s invitation


What, I have to leave town for good things to happen in Michigan???

I leave Michigan for a few days and then THIS happens? Turns out a Michigan judge has invited a Michigan lesbian couple who filed a complaint about not being allowed to adopt each others children to take it a step further and challenge our state’s odious and discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage:

A lesbian couple’s desire to adopt each other’s children has grown into a potentially groundbreaking challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Two Detroit-area nurses [Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer] filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners. But at the judge’s invitation, the case took an extraordinary turn and now will test the legality of a 2004 constitutional amendment that stipulates Michigan only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will hear arguments in the case Thursday at a Detroit law school, although he hasn’t indicated when he’ll make a ruling. If he concludes the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, gay-marriage supporters say same-sex couples would immediately be allowed to wed and adopt children. {…}

During a court hearing in August, the judge suddenly changed the case — and raised the stakes — when he said Rowse and DeBoer should consider challenging Michigan’s ban on gay marriage, which was approved by 58 percent of voters nearly a decade ago. So they expanded their lawsuit to claim the prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it treats same-sex couples differently than heterosexual married couples.

This is a huge development and one sure to rock the foundations of hardcore bigots in our state who oppose anyone loving someone else who isn’t of the opposite sex. Over half of Michiganders support allowing same-sex couples to marry so, at this point, it’s truly just a matter of our laws catching up with our residents’ position. Not surprisingly, the less educated you are, the more likely you are to hold homophobic views regarding same-sex marriage:

Among those with at least some college education, 63 percent favored gay marriage, while it was favored by only 26 percent of those who had never been to college.

In other words, it’s our uneducated citizens that are holding the rest of us back. Again.

Godspeed to Jayne and April. We’ll be following this story with keen interest in the months to come.

UPDATE: I wanted to highlight some great reporting from Laura Berman at the Detroit News. Here’s a snippet but be sure to read the whole piece HERE:

In their lively, well-tended Hazel Park home, Rowse is Mama and DeBoer is Mom to all three kids. But not to the state of Michigan.

“Getting married would be a bonus for us, but that’s not why we’re doing this. This is really about our kids having the right to be treated like other kids and to have a family,” DeBoer says.

She and Rowse work 12-hour shifts on alternating days so at least one parent is always home and awake. They’re both working toward bachelor’s degrees to raise their earning power and be role models for their children.

All three children are adopted, survivors of harrowing births to mothers who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, care for them. Jacob, who weighed 1.1 pounds at birth, wasn’t expected to live when he was sent home as a foster child.

The law’s unfairness — reduced to dry legal language about the importance of traditional marriage in the attorney general’s brief — is easy to see on the micro, in-home level of Legos and diaper changes. {…}

[T]he Hazel Park family is optimistic — and also determined to leave Michigan if the law is not changed. “If I’m going to be discriminated against, I’d like to at least be someplace warm,” says Rowse, wryly. “The biggest consideration is them.”

Nolan and Jacob are playing. Ryanne is demonstrating her knowledge of colors and shapes. Mia, the chocolate Lab, is snoozing on the couch.

It’s more “Modern Family” than “Leave It To Beaver.” But as Nessel says, “Which show do you think people are watching?”

UPDATE 2: Judge Friedman postponed a decision on the DeBoer vs Snyder case until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases.