Judge Delays Ruling on Michigan’s Ban on Marriage Equality

Equality Michigan LogoDETROIT – A federal judge today announced he was delaying his ruling on a case considering if Proposal 2, the 2004 Michigan ballot initiative that added discrimination to Michigan’s Constitution when it banned same-sex relationship recognition, violates the United States Constitution. The judge will announce his ruling after considering the outcome of two marriage equality cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Equality Michigan is in strong support of the right of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse to adopt their children and is proud to have joined our partner organizations in expressing our support in an amicus brief. We assert that laws should be used to strengthen all families and not to disable them.  We believe that the Judge was given a strong enough case to decide in favor of the parents’ right to adopt, but will be immeasurably pleased and in complete agreement if the Judge finds that Michigan’s denial of the fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples was unconstitutional,” said Emily Dievendorf, Equality Michigan’s director of policy.

The lawsuit was filed by an Oakland County lesbian couple who have been together for more than a decade and who would like to share legal responsibility for their children in the form of a second-parent adoption. A second-parent adoption allows one partner in an unmarried couple to adopt the other partner’s child or for both partners in an unmarried relationship to adopt the same child. In states where these adoptions are legal, it is commonly utilized by both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.

Since same-sex couples cannot marry in Michigan, District Judge Bernard Friedman suggested in September 2012 that the couple amend their complaint to challenge the Michigan constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Michigan’s constitutional amendment not only prohibits marriage equality, but virtually every form of recognition of same-sex relationships, including civil unions, domestic partnerships, and even domestic partner healthcare.

Equality Michigan, the state’s only statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, launched its “Respect for Families and Marriage” campaign at their annual event this past October. The multi-year campaign seeks to raise awareness and build momentum towards legal recognition of second-parent adoptions and marriage equality in Michigan.

Equality Michigan, joined the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Michigan, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., National Center For Lesbian Rights, Family Equality Council, Affirmations Community Center, Ruth Ellis Center, and KICK in filing an amicus brief in the case supporting the plaintiffs in today’s case.

In just a few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case on behalf of Edie Windsor challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Supreme Court will also hear a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, which relates to the right of same-sex couples to marry in the State of California. Equality Michigan and 27 other statewide LGBT organizations from “red states” filed an amicus brief in support of the freedom to marry in that case.

To read the amicus brief Equality Michigan filed for this case, go to: http://eqmi.us/VLnCIM

Equality Michigan