Gay couple challenging Michigan's ban on adoptions by unmarried same-sex partners

Hazel Park couple files lawsuit in federal court

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DETROIT - A Detroit-area lesbian couple says they have expanded their legal fight against Michigan's ban on adoptions by unmarried couples.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who have three special-needs children, says the lawsuit filed Friday in federal court seeks to change state laws that prevent same-sex couples from marrying and adopting children.

Attorneys for DeBoer and Rowse said they are amending an original complaint that asked to give them the right to legally adopt the children. The women now want Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage declared unconstitutional.

Attorney Dana Nessel explained DeBoer and Rowse are allowed under the law to be foster parents together for the children. They cannot, however, legally adopt the children under Michigan law.

"The adoption code coupled with the Michigan Marriage amendment creates a veritable catch-22 for gays and lesbians. No couple can adopt unless they are married, yet no same sex couple can ever marry. The combination of these laws does nothing more than destabilize otherwise loving and committed families like April and Jayne's," Nessel said.

The Hazel Park couple is the first to challenge the state's marriage amendment passed in 2004.

DeBoer and Rowse say their civil rights are being violated.

April DeBoer said the legal challenge is being undertaken not for herself and jayne Rowse, but for the sake of the children and their future.

"We've had a commitment ceremony. We might not be legally married but in our eyes we are married. We don't need a piece of paper to tell us that, but we do need a piece of paper to have rights for our children and if that is what's its going to take to give our children the same right as everybody else, then that's what we're going to do," DeBoer said.

A decision by Detroit federal Judge Bernard Friedman, who heard arguments last month, is pending.

Michigan's attorney general's office says Friedman should defer to the judgment of Michigan lawmakers and dismiss the case.

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