Michigan Adoption ban lawsuit goes forward

July 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Judge: Lesbian couple can proceed with Michigan adoption ban lawsuit

Partners Jayne Rowse, left, 48, and April Deboer, 42, both of Hazel Park, answer media questions last week. (Todd McInturf/The Detroit News)

Detroit — A federal judge Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two lesbians that challenges a state ban on adoption by unmarried couples.

The order comes five days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving tax, health and retirement benefits that are usually available to married couples.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman cited last week’s Supreme Court ruling in which justices expressed concern that discriminatory legislation relegates same-sex relationships to a second-tier status and impairs the rights of tens of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples.

“This is exactly the type of harm plaintiffs seek to remedy in this case,” Friedman wrote in Monday’s filing in federal court in Detroit. “Plaintiffs are entitled to their day in court and they shall have it.”

Friedman scheduled a July 10 hearing at which he is expected to set a trial date.

“It’s good news for us, but it’s a narrow ruling,” the couple’s lawyer Carole Stanyar told The News. “We’ll see where else he wants us to go July 10.”

The lawsuit is led by two Detroit-area lesbians who are raising three children. State law says that April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse can’t adopt them as a couple, because it is an option available only to heterosexual married couples.

DeBoer and Rowse say their civil rights are being violated. Detroit federal Judge Bernard Friedman will hear arguments Wednesday.

In a court filing, the state attorney general’s office says Friedman should defer to the judgment of Michigan lawmakers and dismiss the case.



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