At a conference today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the marriage equality case of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The two women have adopted four children but are not able to adopt them together because they are not married thanks to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. The original suit was challenging Michigan’s adoption laws but a federal judge convinced the two to challenge the marriage ban itself. From SCOTUSblog:
Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage. The Court said it would rule on state power to ban gay and lesbian marriage and state power to refuse to recognize such marriages performed out of state. A total of one hour and ninety minutes was set for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.
The Court fashioned the specific questions it is prepared to answer, but they closely tracked the two core constitutional issues that have led to a lengthy string of lower-court rulings striking down state bans. As of now, same-sex marriages are allowed in thirty-six states, with bans remaining in the other fourteen but under court challenge.
Although the Court said explicitly that it was limiting review to the two basic issues, along the way the Justices may have to consider what constitutional tests they are going to apply to state bans, and what weight to give to policies that states will claim to justify one or the other of the bans.
Cases from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee will also be considered along with the Rowse/DeBoer case in Michigan. According to their order, the two issues they will consider are:
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
A total of 90 minutes of oral arguments is alotted for question #1 and one our for question #2.
Given the trend in judicial rulings over the past couple of years, this bodes very well for marriage equality in America. Marriage equality may be a reality for the entire country by mid-summer.
Here’s a statement from Emily Dievendorf, the Executive Director of Equality Michigan:
For too long, LGBTQ families in Michigan have been excluded from the protections and responsibilities that come with marriage. Michiganders are more than ready to join the 35 states where the freedom to marry has been secured. Equality Michigan appreciates that the Supreme Court has joined them in recognizing the urgency in resolving legal access to the freedom to marry. We are optimistic the Justices will see right through the flawed and deceptive arguments that people standing on the wrong side of history, like Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, will once again try to present.
While it is great news that the Supreme Court will be taking up the legal matter of our freedom to marry, for many, the additional months of waiting will be excruciating, and it will sadly be too long for some facing tragic circumstances. This fight has been long, emotional, challenging, and it is not over yet – nor is our victory inevitable. However, I remain confident it is achievable, and Equality Michigan will continue to do our part to advance this important issue. We want to once again thank April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, as well as their legal team, as they pursue this historic case. Today is a major step in our path to victory, and we will not give up on our dream of equality for all Michigan families until that dream is achieved.
You can read our interview with Jayne and April HERE.
Here’s a parting shot from April and Jayne’s kids to Attorney General Bill Schuette who continues to waste our tax dollars on his homophobic crusade against marriage equality:
Ryanne, Nolan, and Jacob
[Photos by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]