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By Shelby Clark
To raise much-needed funds for the Michigan Marriage Challenge, a movement to help the DeBoer-Rowse family legally co-adopt their three children, the Jim Toy Community Center and The Ark will present “Equality Cabaret: Making Marriage Equality a Reality” on Feb. 23.
The DeBoer v. Snyder case, which was postponed to late February by Federal Judge Bernard A. Friedman of the Eastern District of Michigan, is an attempt to show the court that same-gender couples are fit parents.
April DeBoer, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Jayne Rowse, an emergency room nurse, were licensed as a couple to foster parents. They began caring for three newborns who face long-term physical and mental impairments.
Since then, the couple has raised the children, desiring to co-adopt them. The current Michigan Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption for the couple, violating the couple’s right to Equal Protection under the United States Constitution. An attempt to bring the case to court in the fall of 2013 led to the postponement.
Despite being represented pro bono by the law firm Nessel and Kessel, expenses are mounting for the case. An estimated $250,000 minimum is needed for witnesses and other legal expenses.
University of Michigan professor Holly Hughes will emcee the event, which will feature performances by singer-songwriter Vienna Teng, folk duo Nervous But Excited, The Dueling Divas Callie McKee and Robby Griswold of Arbor Opera Theatre.
Teng, who’s from Taiwan and received a BS in computer science from Stanford, grew up singing and playing piano. She cites Elton John, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and Dvorak as some of her many influences. A self-described musician of “awkwardly” classified music, Teng performs piano music that envelopes folk, pop, jazz and Americana.
Another standout of the event, Nervous But Excited, hails from Michigan. Self-described as a “pleasantly aggressive folk duo,” Sarah Cleaver and Kate Peterson have been praised by music legends the Indigo Girls. Nervous But Excited’s music includes diverse instrumentation: mandolins, violins, harmonicas and even ukuleles.
The Equality Cabaret begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23 at The Ark, 316 S. Main, Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $100 for supporters (which grants reserved seating house center) and $250 for benefactors (reserved seating house floor front an center).
For more information on the event, call The Ark at 734-761-1800 or visit http://www.michiganmarriagechallenge.com. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Michigan Union Ticket Office at 734-763-TKTS.