WOODHAVEN, Mich. — 20-year-old Justin Coppola of Fraser is accused of trying to run over a six-week-old kitten around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a Meijer parking lot in Woodhaven all while an off-duty Taylor police officer and his wife looked on.
“Setting the cat on the ground, backing up trying to run it over, and then when he didn’t successfully run it over, he pulled forward and tried running it over again,” said Woodhaven Police Detective Alan Jackson.
Police say Coppola noticed the people watching him and took off. The off-duty officer followed and said Coppola was driving recklessly on Allen Road, nearly crashing into cars as he tried to get away.
Police say he then tried to get rid of the kitten again.
It was in the area of King and Millbury that the witness told police he saw Coppola throw the kitten out of his car window.
Police say the kitten hit the concrete and slid to the curb. They never were able to locate it. Coppola is now charged with torture, animal cruelty and reckless driving.
“Certainly we don’t believe that the animal has been killed. We don’t think the animal’s been seriously harmed, and our client vigorously disputes any intent to try to harm this animal,” said attorney Dana Nessel.
She said her client picked up the stray black and white kitten thinking he would give it a home, stopped for supplies at the store, but the kitten scratched him and he was trying to get the cat out of the car in the Meijer parking lot, not run it over.
“He was not trying to run over any cats. He was not trying to harm any cats, but we believe this is just an unfortunate situation where his actions and the events were misconstrued,” said attorney Chris Kessel.
Coppola’s attorneys also say their client panicked when someone started following him and stopped near King and Millbury to, again, get the cat out of the car.
Coppola’s bond was set at $50,000 ten percent. He is not allow to have any contact with animals pending his next court date, and his family has arranged for psychiatric counseling.
A Hazel Park couple plans to challenge the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
April DeBoer and her partner, Jayne Rowse, had filed suit against the governor and attorney general in their fight to jointly adopt their three special needs children. But a federal judge last week encouraged the couple to instead challenge the state’s definition of marriage.
Judge Bernard Friedman said that’s really the underlying issue in their quest for joint adoption. DeBoer and Rowse were certified by the state as a couple to foster the children, but the state only allowed them to adopt them as individuals. They want their children to have two legal parents.
The lawsuit, to be filed Friday, will be the first challenge to Michigan’s 2004 law banning same sex marriage.
A Detroit area-based lesbian couple currently battling Michigan’s ban on adoption by unmarried couples will go one step further by entering the local fight for same-sex marriage.
As The Detroit News is reporting, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse — who earlier this year filed a civil rights lawsuit to change their state’s law barring same-sex couples from adopting — announced plans to amend their complaint during a Sept. 7 news conference. They are now challenging Gov. Richard Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. to declare Michigan’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, in addition to asking for the right to adopt as a same-sex couple, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The couple told local reporters that the sole motivation was their three children.
“Lots of things could happen if we don’t protect their rights,” DeBoer is quoted by the News as saying. “For Jayne and I, this fight is and always will be about the rights and protections of our children. It has never been about our rights.”
DeBoer and Rowse have been raising 3-year-old Nolan and 2-year-old Ryanne, who were abandoned at birth, and 2-year-old Jacob, who they have raised since he was four months old. All three children are reportedly special needs, and DeBoer and Rowse say they are concerned their children could lose health insurance and other benefits open to children of married couples.
Since Rowse and DeBoer are not both legal parents to all of their children, only one of them can make legal and medical decisions for each child. If one partner dies, the other has no legal claim to the children she did not legally adopt.
“This is totally not what we expected by any means,” Rowse added, according to the Detroit Free Press. “We wanted to keep the kids’ rights at the forefront, the rights that any other child has.”
Michigan is one of five states that bans joint adoption by unmarried parents. In the past seven years, a number of proposals have reportedly been introduced to allow second-parent adoption, none of which have been passed. Last year, two new state proposals, House Bill 4249 and Senate Bill 169, were introduced and are currently sitting in committee.
The Associated Press reports that the Hazel Park couple is the first to challenge the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, which passed in 2004.
“The state gave them children who had been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise,” Dana Nessel, an attorney acting on behalf of the couple, is quoted by Pink News as saying. “And they are raising them with all the love, nurturing, care and affection that any parent would give to any child. But the state then rewards these women by telling them while they are good enough to foster as a couple, they aren’t good enough to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter insanity.”
Detroit attorney Christopher Kessel is asking a Livingston County Circuit Court judge to hold a hearing to determine if public defender Carolyn Henry failed to effectively represent Michael Andrew Johanson in 2010 when Johanson entered a plea to assaulting a woman with intent to commit sexual penetration. He also is asking that Johanson’s plea be withdrawn.
Two mothers filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday morning designed to protect their three children and many others in Michigan.
Detroit-area lesbian couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse have adopted two boys and one girl over the past two years. The three children, who have been raised since just after birth by DeBower and Rowse, would otherwise be in Michigan’s foster care system, according to WXYZ.
In his recent State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder praised parents who chose to adopt in Michigan, bringing special attention to Lamar and Holly Moreland, heterosexual parents in Canton, Mich., for adopting two of their three children. But because Michigan’s Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption by unmarried or same-sex couples, each of DeBower and Rowse’s children has only been adopted by one of the two parents.
“Jayne and I love our children as deeply as any other parent loves their kids,” Rowse said in a statement. “We just want our children to have the same protections all other children have, so that our kids know they can never be taken from either of us.”
Rowse and DeBoer’s lawsuit claims that Michigan’s Adoption Code violates the right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. According to the Detroit Free Press, the suit says children who have unmarried second parents are denied a wide range of benefits available to children of married couples. Since Rowse and DeBoer are not both legal parents to all of their children, only one of them can make legal and medical decisions for each child. If one partner dies, the other has no legal claim to the children she did not legally adopt.
Michigan is one of five states that bans joint adoption by unmarried parents. In the past seven years, several proposals have been introduced to allow second-parent adoption, but none have been passed. In 2011, two new state proposals, House Bill 4249 and Senate Bill 169, were introduced and are currently sitting in committee.
A spokeswoman for the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On the federal level, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act — legislation introduced in the House and Senate last year — would make it illegal to discriminate in adoption and foster care placement based on the marital status and sexual orientation of parents.
“With this bill they are looking past partisan politics,” said Emily Dievendorf, director of policy for Equality Michigan. “It’s a really great example to set for the states: ‘We can’t wait for you to make progress before we take care of our kids.'”
Michigan has had a steady increase of households run by same-sex couples, jumping 41 percent from 2000 to 2010 for a total of 21,782, according to the 2010 census. At the same time, same-sex couple adoption has risen nationally, despite barriers to adoption and rights for children.
Deivendorf said that while similar legislation and lawsuits have not led to change in the past, she is hopeful that research about the positive effects of two-parent families will trigger change.
“We’ve gone through nearly a decade of fighting to get what all psychologists and social workers and scientists say is the best way to meet children’s needs,” she said. “This is an opportunity for the state government to wake up and do something about it before it becomes an embarrassment.”
A lesbian couple from Oakland County filed a federal lawsuit today to overturn a state law that prevents unmarried couples in gay, lesbian and heterosexual relationships from jointly adopting children.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, state-certified foster parents who are trying to jointly adopt three abandoned or surrendered newborns that they took into their household during the past two years, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
“The State of Michigan found these women good enough to put their blood, sweat and tears into raising these children,” their lawyers, Dana Nessel of Detroit and Carole Stanyar of Plymouth, said in a prepared statement announcing the suit. “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.”
There was no immediate comment from Gov. Rick Snyder or Attorney General Bill Schuette, who were sued in their official capacities.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin Snyder, Schuette and judges from blocking second parent adoptions in Michigan.
DeBoer, a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Rowse, an emergency room nurse, have been in a committed relationship for 10 years, the suit said. During the past two years, they took in two boys and a girl shortly after they were born.
DeBoer adopted a 23-month-old girl who was surrendered by her 19-year-old mother. Rowse adopted the 2-year-old boys. One was born to a homeless woman and the other to a drug-addicted prostitute. All three children have experienced health problems.
Rowse wants to adopt the girl and DeBoer wants to adopt the boys, but they can’t under Michigan law. The state Constitution prohibits same-sex couples from marrying. Although married couples and single people can adopt a child in Michigan, an unmarried couple cannot. Only one of the parents may adopt.
The lawsuit seeks to strike down the prohibition on the grounds that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It says children of unmarried second parents seeking to adopt in Michigan are denied legal, emotional, financial, social, medical and other benefits.
The suit says sociological and psychological evidence shows that unmarried straight, gay or lesbian couples are just as loving, carrying and effective parents as married couples.
The suit said there are major benefits for children to have two legal parents rather than one, including the right to have a parent if the first parent dies, the right to dependency benefits such as social security, workers compensation, pensions, insurance, and the right to have at least one parent available to make decisions if the other parent is unavailable or incapacitated.
“Jayne and I love our children as deeply as any other parent loves their kids,” DeBoer said in the statement announcing the suit. “We just want our children to have the same protections all other children have so that our kids know they can never be taken from either of us.”
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman.
Contact DAVID ASHENFELTER: firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT (WXYZ) – Imagine not being allowed to adopt a child you had raised since birth. That is what some same-sex partners are facing. Michigan is among a handful of states that still offers no legal protections for gays and lesbians – and that can have major consequences for their children.
7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo has an exclusive look at what could be a landmark legal battle that’s brewing in Michigan.
A local lesbian couple has been raising three children since birth, kids who otherwise would have been in the foster care system. One of the women adopted one child – while the other woman had to adopt the other two – that’s because the law in Michigan won’t let them jointly adopt all three kids. And they’re hoping this lawsuit will change the lives of children all over Michigan.
April Deboer and Jayne Rowse have dedicated their lives to raising three small children – two of whom have special needs. April and Jayne are both nurses – and they have been in a committed relationship for more than a decade.
“We didn’t find our children, our children found us,” says Doboer.
The couple tried artificial insemination – but April miscarried triplets. They tried several private adoptions – only to have their hearts broken again and again when birth mother’s would change their minds.
But one day, a young homeless woman who was unable to care for a child gave birth to Nolan. April and Jayne brought the baby home – and Jayne ultimately adopted Nolan. Because the Michigan Constitution bans same-sex marriage – same-sex couples cannot jointly adopt children.
“I don’t see how that puts the best interest of the child at the forefront,” says Rowse.
A year later, a teenage mom gave birth at home, and then gave up baby Ryanne under Michigan’s Safe Haven law at the hospital. April jumped at the chance to adopt the little girl. But, again, Jayne cannot legally be Ryanne’s parent as well.
Then came baby Jacob, who was born to a drug-addicted mother, and delivered prematurely at 25 weeks. Ironically, April and Jayne could become legal same-sex foster parents to Jacob, but now that Jayne has officially adopted him, April has no parental rights.
“When we were foster parents, we had more rights to our children than we do now as adoptive parents,” says Rowse. “We each had the legal say-so in what happened to our foster son. And now that he’s adopted, she’s like an invisible person to him in the eyes of the law.”
“Michigan has some of the worst laws in the country for gay and lesbian parents,” says attorney Carole Stanyar, who represents the couple. “And these laws in particular are hurting families, and as we can see in this case, they’re hurting children.”
That’s why Stanyar and attorney Dana Nessel are filing this lawsuit against Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette. They’re challenging Michigan’s Adoption Code, which only allows married couples or single people to adopt children.
“In our view, a law that is based on irrational prejudice with no legitimate purpose is unconstitutional, plain and simple,” says Nessel.
Nessel says the legal rights of children of same-sex couples are being hurt in many ways. If one of their parents dies, the other parent would have no legal claim to the child.
“So in the event something happened to her, not only would her children lose their mom, but they would also lose the only other parent they know and their sibling,” says Doboer.
Also, when April takes the boys to the doctor, she has to take Jayne with her.
“I can’t legally sign for treatments. I can’t legally sign for anything. I have to wait for her to show up to the hospital in order to get treatment,” she says.
Lawyers say the children of same-sex couples also don’t have the same inheritance rights that other kids do. They also can’t receive social security disability from the non-adoptive parent, or health insurance. Also if a same-sex couple separates, they have no legal ability to see the children that they didn’t adopt.
Nessel says if this civil rights suit changes the law, approximately 10,000 children in same-sex homes in Michigan will be impacted. And she believes hundreds of other same-sex couples will start giving permanent homes to foster children.
“They want to take children who have no homes, who have no parents and give them a real family, says Nessel. “And they’re afraid to do it, because they don’t want to be faced with the decision of who gets to be the legal parent of the child. So they simply don’t do it or they leave the state.”
“We want to protect our children,” says Deboer. “We want our children to stay in the family that they know, because it’s the only family that they know.”
A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says they can’t comment on the lawsuit because it hasn’t been filed and they haven’t seen it yet. But Snyder’s spokesperson says when they do have it, the Attorney General will review it.
The lawsuit was filed Monday morning in Federal Court.
HAZEL PARK, Mich. – HAZEL PARK, Mich. (AP) — Two lesbians who are raising three children filed a lawsuit Monday to overturn Michigan’s ban on adoption by unmarried couples.
April DeBoer, with two adopted children, and Jayne Rowse, with one, are longtime partners and nurses who live together with the kids in suburban Detroit. But under state law, they can’t adopt them as a couple, an option available only to heterosexual married couples.
A lesbian couple from Oakland County filed a federal lawsuit today to overturn a state law that prevents parents in gay, lesbian and heterosexual relationships from jointly adopting children.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, state-certified foster parents who are trying to adopt three abandoned or surrendered newborns that they took into their household during the past two years, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit.