Michigan

June 26: Affirmations Of Love And Family In Braun Court

BY AJ TRAGER

ANN ARBOR - June 26 will officially be known as a day of love, devotion, sacrifice, fidelity and above all else family. In an historic 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the thousands of LGBT couples living in Michigan waiting to get married or who have already been married in another state are just as equal as their heterosexual counterparts.

At 10 a.m. the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality and the celebrations began. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the Hazle Park couple fighting for marriage equality since 2011, spent the night in Ann Arbor as they, along with the rest of the nation, awaited a decision from SCOTUS.

"I really don't know what to say right now. It's been a long, long road - 4.5 years in the making - that we sought protection for our children. We would not be here if it weren't for so many of you," DeBoer said before listing the large number of people who have offered support over the years.

"My last comment is to my beautiful children, we did this is for you," DeBoer said tearing up on stage in Braun Court.

Hundreds were in attendance, filling the cobble stones of the LGBT gayborhood in Ann Arbor. It was difficult to walk through from /aut/Bar to the Jim Toy Community Center without bumping shoulders with someone wearing a rainbow boa, rainbow beads or a pin that read "Day of the Decision Braun Court Making Marriage Equality A Reality."

For so many people within the LGBT community who have fought for LGBT representation, LGBT voices and LGBT recognition, this marriage equality "reality" has been a concept so far out of reach that the morning of June 26 felt more like a dream than reality.

"As everyone has said and for anyone who has followed this case knows, we never anticipated, in a million years, that this case could go where it ended up going. That the case woud become the seminal marriage case for marriage equality throughout the United States," Dana Nessel said.

"We were an army. Private citizens and grassroots - good people trying to do the right thing," Carole Stanyar, attorney for the DeBoer family, said. "I am tremendously proud of the legal system today. I am so proud of Judge Friedman who ordered a trial. I am so proud of Judge Martha Daughtrey who wrote that valiant dissent (in the 6th Circuit decision). I am proud of the five justices that authored the majority opinion in this case, for resolving issues of enormous importance in our society."

Megan and Sarah Street were there with their child Addison. The couple married in December 2013 after the Friedman case was set to go to trial and have been waiting to second-parent adopt their child for roughly seven months. They have been holding onto their paperwork for a long time and are prepared to file for second-parent adoption the moment they can, ideally on June 29.

Megan and Sarah Street with their child, Addison.

"I feel really overwhelmed," Megan said.

"It feels really good because our daughter is now protected. Because now we can officially both adopt her," Sarah added.

For April and Jayne, the decision to approach Dana Nessel, attorney at law, back when it all began was to write out a will if one of them were to pass. Their fight has always been about their children and the injustices they faced because they were not granted the right to co-adopt.

"Again, thanks to the Supreme Court, everybody who is affected by this I am truly honored to be one of the people in this case to bring this home. Not only for Michigan but for all of the United States. I know none of us thought that this day would come, at least not in our lifetime," Rowse said. "We want to thank Ken, Bob, Dana, Carole, Mary, the National Marriage Challenge people and everyone out there who has helped us, supported us... The Jim Toy Community Center, Linda, Sandi... And you (signaling to DeBoer). Thank you for standing by me."

Nessel and the rest of the legal counsel spent June 26 with April and Jayne in Braun Court celebrating and addressed members of the press at noon.

"I want to say one more important note, and it's nothing to take away from our happiness today, but we all know that this is only a step in the struggle for full LGBT equality," Bob Sedler, co-counsel, said. "The Brown decision was the catalyst of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I strongly hope that today's decision will be the catalyst for a sweeping move for LGBT equality."

And what of the happy couple, April and Jayne? Well they're planning a wedding of course!

"Not that it comes as a shock but we are still settling into this and I would venture to say there will be a wedding by the end of the summer but don't quote me on that," DeBoer said."

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