Law Blog

DOMA Ruling and What it Means for Same Sex Couples in Michigan

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling hit the news waves like a tsunami–many were talking about the unconstitutionality of DOMA, despite rarely knowing what the decision actually means for same-sex couples in the United States. Ultimately, the high court determined that DOMA violated the 5th Amendment rights of married gay couples by denying them equal protection under the law. The majority wrote that although some states recognize a gay marriage, because the federal government does not, same-sex couples would be denied a myriad of federal Deboer Rowse Fundbenefits (such as the tax benefits in the actual case heard in front of the Supreme Court) that heterosexual couples had access to. Therefore, in the eyes of the court, gay couples were treated differently.


While there are technically some instances in which government can discriminate against certain groups of people, to do so legally it must past a test. The Supreme Court said that discriminating against same-sex couples needed to pass the rational basis test to be lawful–meaning, there must be a “legitimate government interest” that would justify the need to discriminate. In the case most recently heard by the Supreme Court, no such legitimate interest could be found.


Even though Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption is still written in the state constitution, the DOMA ruling does make the light at the end of the tunnel shine that much brighter in the Mitten State. Because the constitutional ban in Michigan clearly discriminates against same-sex marriage exactly like DOMA, attorneys for gay couples are now able to argue that prohibiting their marriage or adoption serves no legitimate government interest and therefore should be recognized as a denial of their 5th Amendment rights. While the majority wrote that it is the state’s job to define things like marriage, it is required to do so within the rubric of constitutional protections.Deboer Rowse Case


The dedicated and experienced Detroit lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law couldn’t be more pleased about the Supreme Court ruling, as it not only proclaims this legal injustice as unconstitutional but also paves the way for many other same-sex couples (in Michigan and around the country) to enjoy the same benefits that heterosexual couples do. We are hopeful that as the waves of change continue to catch on, gay couples (like our clients April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse), will have the opportunity to marry and adopt lawfully and without prejudice.


Should you have any questions on same-sex marriage or adoption in Michigan or any other state, please don’t hesitate to contact the skilled legal team at Nessel and Kessel Law. Nationally recognized for their devotion to the crusade for marriage equality, Dana Nessel and Chris Kessel are ready to fight for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to Nessel and Kessel Law at any time!


April and Jayne need your help! To contribute to their ongoing legal battle for adoption rights, please click here.

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