HAZEL PARK The case of a Hazel Park couple suing for the right to marry and adopt their children is moving towards their Oct. 1 trial date, with the State of Michigan answering the claims against them with a very simple defense: they are not a family and they do not have the right to be.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse live together with their three children, each adopted by only one of the women, as Michigan does not allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt. Because Michigan also has a Constitutional ban on same-gender marriage, they cannot fulfill that requirement to become joint legal parents.
In an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint dated July 22 and- filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette on behalf of his office and Governor Rick Snyder, Schuette asserted that though the women and the children live together, they are two separate family units.
“State Defendants admit Plaintiffs’ residence information, but deny that both Plaintiffs are parents of the minor children. Plaintiff DeBoer is the legal parent of Rand Plaintiff Rowse is the legal parent of J and N,” he wrote.
Most of the facts of the case are undisputed, and the response mainly calls upon the court to make a determination based on the law.
The couple is moving forward with the premise that the law is unconstitutional because it does not treat their family the same as other families.
Judge Bernard Friedman, who is presiding over this case, delayed making a decision on a prior motion by the state to dismiss because he was waiting to see how the U.S. Supreme Court would rule on DOMA and Prop. 8 last June. The case may have given the Hazel Park couple enough precedent to assert equal protection here in Michigan. Schuette is standing by current Michigan law, stating the Michigan’s Constitutional amendment “speaks for itself.”
“The Michigan Marriage Amendment recognizes marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” he wrote.
As far as adoption goes, M.C.L. 710.24 only has provisions for married couples to jointly adopt.
Schuette also argues that both laws serve the state’s interest. “The Michigan Marriage Amendment fosters the State’s legitimate interest in promoting responsible natural procreation, which, in turn, promotes raising children in a home environment with both a mother and a father, giving the children the benefit of having a role model of both sexes.”
He also goes on to say that the women “lack standing to assert some or all of their claims,” “have not stated a claim for which relief can be granted,” and that “the Court should exercise its discretion to abstain from adjudicating these claims.”
Both sides will now write and submit briefs to Judge Friedman, and they will meet on Oct. 1 so that the couple can have their day in court.
Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown is also a defendant in the case, but she agrees with the parents’ assertion that they should be allowed to marry and adopt their children. She has turned away County’s corporation counsel and brought in civil rights attorneys instead.
Between the Lines has been following this case from the beginning. Check out our previous stories:
Hazel Park moms take adoption restrictions to federal level, 3/29/2012
Adoption Rights Suit Amended to Include Same-Sex Marriage, 9/13/2012
Judge Decides To Wait On Adoption And Gay Marriage Decision, 3/7/2013 Mommy Issues, 5/9/2013
VIDEO: Hazel Park Case Could Pave The Way For Marriage, Adoption In Michigan, 6/27/2013
Hazel Park Lesbian Couple’s Case Moves Forward, 7/01/2013
Clerk Brings In New Lawyers To ‘Defend’ In Hazel Park Couple’s Case, 7/18/2013