DeBoer-Rowse Children Share Vows At Wedding

By |2015-08-27T09:00:00-04:00August 27th, 2015|Michigan, News|


SOUTHFIELD – After 15 years of devoted love, changing diapers, balancing two overnight shifts and challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse have finally tied the knot.
Michigan’s plaintiff couple in the case against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage exchanged their wedding vows over 200 people Aug. 22 at Pi Banquet Hall in Southfield. Witnesses to the ceremony and signing of the license were Carole Stanyar, Ken Mogill, Dana Nessel, Bob Sedler and Mary Bonauto, the lawyers who have represented them throughout the four year journey which began in 2011 when the couple sought second-parent adoption for their kids. The couple and their attorneys were joined by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, County Clerks Lawrence Kestenbaum from Washtenaw County and Lisa Brown from Oakland County, Federal Judge Judy Levy, Gloria Allred, family, friends and longtime, local LGBT activists. Federal Judge Bernard Friedman, who issued the ruling in the 2014 trial that overturned Michigan’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, officiated the wedding.
“Little did I know, 15 years ago when I met you, that you would have brought me four beautiful kids and dragged me into the U.S. Supreme Court,” April began. “I love you with all my heart. I didn’t know that day when I met you that you would be the rest of my life, but you are. I am honored to soon be your legal wife. I’ve been your wife for many years now and being your legal wife means everything to me and everything to our kids. I don’t know what to say. You’re my best friend. I promise to love you forever. I promise to keep fighting with you in whatever mess we kind of stumble ourselves into; whatever our brilliant attorneys decide we should do. I can’t imagine my life without you and my life without our kids. And I promise to stand by you no matter what.”
Next it was Jayne’s turn to exchange her vows. The two of them had decided to not have their vows pre-written to allow their words to flow freely.
“April, I knew by the second date — well, maybe the third, that we were destined to be together. And though it took a few years to convince you, I think I did. And we helped each other through so many things: nursing school, children, just everyday life. I honestly can’t imagine my life without you; without all of these guys. I love you with all of my heart. I promise to be the best possible wife to you, the best possible parent to our kids, the best possible daughter-in-law to my fabulous in-laws. I promise to take care of both of us forever and always,” Jayne said with tears in her eyes.
Just before Friedman was able to declare the couple lawfully wed, April and Jayne had their children take a vow to the mother who is soon to become their legal mother. Rylee, 3, and Ryanne, 5, went first, speaking directly to Jayne.
“I (Rylee, Ryanne) take you, Momma, to be my legal Mommy. And I love you forever.”
Nolan, 6, and Jacob, 5, were next, addressing their promises to April.
“Momma, we take you to be our legal Momma and we love you forever.”
“By the power vested in me by the state and the U.S. Constitution, I hereby pronounce you lawfully married spouses,” Friedman said as “All You Need Is Love” rang through the speakers and the newlyweds exchanged a kiss before a standing ovation.
The fight for marriage equality has been a long one for April and Jayne, who will soon change their their last names to DeBoer-Rowse to match that of the kids. Over the course of the last four years, they have been at the center of the marriage equality fight in Michigan and have appeared on major TV and radio stations as well as in countless print media articles — a journey which has consumed much of their time and compromised their sense of normalcy. They eagerly await a return to normal habits in life like going to school, making dinner, taking baths, doing homework, sharing stories and to “not have a camera crew following us around or (have) people asking me questions like ‘define normalcy,'” April said in the press conference held directly after the ceremony.
In a not so surprising move, April, Jayne and their kids are taking a vacation to Florida, in what Jayne describes as a “familymoon” instead of enjoying a traditional “couple only” honeymoon.
The fight and motive has all along been to achieve and obtain equal protections under the law for their children. Even on a day where many couples focus on themselves, Jayne and April were right next to their kids for the entire ceremony and thought of them in an evening reflection.
“I think there was quite a bit of anxiety,” April said, thinking about how things will change once her and Jayne have legal rights over all their children. “Every day started off with, ‘What if this happens today. What if that happens today?’ Even now, we still are living with that until the second-parent adoption does go through. Our wishes are not necessarily set in stone. We are still living in that what-if.”
The next step for them after they return home from the familymoon and get their approved marriage license is to finally file for second-parent adoptions.
Countless businesses and community leaders stepped up over the last two months to donate a total of $60,000 in services for April and Jayne’s wedding including: April’s dress, Jayne’s tuxedo, rings, flowers, invitations, DJ, photos, hotel stay, and the venue, Pi Banquet Hall, which could not be featured in a previous BTL article about the donated services due to privacy rules.
“Everybody, not only in this room but everybody under the Constitution, every citizen of the U.S. that appreciates what our forefathers had done, every one of those owes you a big debt of gratitude,” said Friedman.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.