A lesbian couple that prompted the legal battle over same-sex marriage and adoption rights in Michigan will be coming to Holland on June 28 to help celebrate the second outdoor and 10th annual Holland Area PRIDE Festival.
Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer have committed to coming to the festival as a kickoff to the Holland Area PRIDE Committee’s “LGBT Ally of the Year” award that will be awarded for the first time at the 2015 PRIDE Festival. The award and the criteria for it will be announced at this year’s festival, which will be held on Saturday, June 28, from noon-6 p.m. in Centennial Park and 6-10 p.m. in The Armory.
“We couldn’t think of a more deserving couple to help us announce the award than Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, two ordinary people who have made a huge difference in the battle for LGBT equal rights by having the courage to stand up for what is right,” said Arni Scheving, who heads the committee’s award panel.
Rowse and DeBoer, two Detroit-area nurses, filed a lawsuit last year attacking a Michigan law that prohibits them from jointly adopting children because they’re not married. They expanded their challenge to the gay marriage ban approved by 58 percent of Michigan voters in 2004, which U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman overturned. His decision is currently under appeal.
Rowse and DeBoer have three adopted children and even Joseph Potchen, an assistant attorney general who argued against their case, said they are doing a “wonderful job” raising them.
Their coming to Holland, where they will give brief comments, will be the highlight of the 2014 Holland Area PRIDE Festival that will once again include live entertainment throughout the day and night. During the day, booths by businesses and organizations supporting LGBT rights will be lined along Centennial Park and food and beverages will also be available. Some of the booths will hand out free prizes while others will sell wares and promote their organizations.
The noon-6 p.m. afternoon portion, which will feature many of the same live groups that made last year’s festival successful, is free while a $5 entry fee will be charged for the 6-10 p.m. evening portion, which will feature nationally known comedienne Jennie McNulty.
It will mark the second outdoor and 10th annual PRIDE Festival held in Holland. The premier rainbow sponsor is Herman Miller while other sponsors include West Shore Aware, Padnos, PNC and Hope Church.