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Landmark Ruling Could Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in MI

PHOTO: April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are at the center of a lawsuit that could legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Nessel Law.
PHOTO: April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are at the center of a lawsuit that could legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Nessel Law.
October 16, 2013

DETROIT - Same-sex couples in Michigan could legally tie the knot as early as this afternoon, pending a federal judge's decision that could lift the ban on same-sex marriage.

The case before Judge Bernard Friedman involves two Michigan women. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are asking to overturn a 2004 law that prohibits same-sex couples from marrying and to declare unconstitutional Michigan's Adoption Code, which prohibits joint adoption by gay or lesbian couples.

DeBoer and Rowse have three adopted children, all with special needs, but because the two cannot legally marry in Michigan, attorney Dana Nessel said, they are denied the same rights as other parents.

"Medical decisions, any type of legal rights at all - you have absolutely none to that child, even though that child calls you their parent and has only known you to be their parent since, literally, the day they were born," Nessel said.

A spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Schuette will be in court to argue to uphold the marriage ban.

If the judge lifts the ban and declines to issue a stay, Nessel said, same-sex couples could legally marry in Michigan immediately. Even if the case is appealed, it could lead to a rush later today at county clerks' offices around the state. Nessel said that's understandable.

"When you have gone so long without enjoying equality and the same rights as other citizens, you kind of want to start enjoying your equal rights right away," Nessel said.

Several county clerks have said they will waive the three-day waiting period for a marriage license should Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage be lifted.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI