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Michigan awaits U.S. Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage

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DETROIT – All eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court as Michigan awaits its decision on whether same-sex couples can legally marry.

The justices have heard arguments in same-sex marriage cases from four states, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan -- and decision is expected before the end of this month.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are at the center of Michigan's case. The mothers initially went to court to win the right to jointly adopt each other's children, but then turned their focus to confront the state's ban on gay marriage.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse said they plan to continue fighting for the right to marry with benefits in Michigan.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse said they plan to continue fighting for the right to marry with benefits in Michigan.

DeBoer and Rowse live in Hazel Park, with their four adopted children, and a foster child. Each woman has adopted two kids, but they can't jointly adopt them because Michigan ties that to marriage.

"We decided that not doing anything would do more harm to our children than standing up and saying we're going to fight," DeBoer said.

DeBoer is a part-time neonatal nurse and Rowse works full time as an emergency room nurse.

It was after a two-week trial in 2014 that U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman made his ruling on Michigan's ban. He decided a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan constitution, which limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, violated the U.S. Constitution's right of equal protection. Attorney General Bill Schuette quickly filed for an emergency stay pending an appeal in the case.

County clerks in Michigan are preparing for an influx of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses if the high court rules in favor of allowing them.

Some clerks are willing to waive the three-day waiting period for the license.

View: Special Section on Michigan same-sex marriage fight