Help the fight for equal rights
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are fighting for their family in the state of Michigan, which has some of the nation’s most stringent and regressive laws and policies in the country.
April, Jayne, and their supporters are working to overturn Michigan’s Marriage Amendment, approved by voters in 2004, which prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, as well as alter Michigan’s adoption code that currently denies rights and benefits to the children of gay/lesbian couples.
If Judge Bernard Friedman of the Eastern District of Michigan rules the ban unconstitutional, it will be a landmark win for marriage equality – and for this family.
Currently, the judge has issued a formal stay of proceedings while he awaits U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the upcoming cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the California case involving Proposition 8. In both those matters, the plaintiffs were successful in challenging laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Those arguments will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this month, and decisions are expected in June.
If you would like to make a contribution to help April, Jayne, and their legal team, please donate via Paypal. You don’t need to have a Paypal account in order to donate; all major credit cards accepted. (Please note donations are not tax-deductible.)
About April and Jayne
April and Jayne have been in a committed relationship for over a decade, and together are raising three special-needs children. DeBoer, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Rowse, an emergency room nurse, became licensed as a couple to be foster parents. Within a year and a half, they welcomed three newborns who had been abandoned or surrendered at birth. The children faced long-term physical and mental impairments due to prematurity, little or no prenatal care, maternal drug use, and other complications.
April and Jayne love their children as deeply as any other parent loves their kids, and want their children to have the same protections all other children have, including knowing they can never be taken from their family and each other.
DeBoer and Rowse’s desire to jointly adopt all three children would establish each parent’s legal claim and relationship to their children. Currently one has adopted two of the children and the other has adopted one. Unfortunately the Michigan Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption for their kids and thousands of other children in households like theirs across the state, violating their right to Equal Protection under the United States Constitution. The law is discriminatory, irrational, and only has the effect of hurting children and destabilizing families.
In addition to the impact on committed couples, in effect, the children of gays and lesbians in Michigan are forbidden from having two parents. Michigan is one of only a handful of states left in the country that allows no mechanism for the legal recognition of two parents of the same sex, meaning that whether same-sex couples adopt or one of the partners conceives a child biologically, only one partner can ever have a legally recognized relationship with that child.
About the case
Although the initial complaint filed on behalf of April, Jayne, and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012 intended to secure these rights, at the behest of Judge Friedman, the pleadings were amended to challenge the same-sex marriage ban, significantly expanding the scope of the case. As one of the most draconian bans in the nation, the amendment effectively prohibits any type of legal recognition or benefits for same-sex couples in Michigan
Ironically, the State of Michigan found these women capable enough to put their blood, sweat, and tears into raising these children together as foster parents. To now deny them the opportunity to both become legal parents to the children they love, and who are the only parents they have ever known, is totally irrational, and serves no legitimate purpose.
Please help April and Jayne pursue this case as long as they are able.
Here are some news stories with more information about this important case: