Michigan Marriage Challenge

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are fighting for their family in the state of Michigan, which has some of the nation's most stringent and regressive laws and policies in the country in regards to the LGBT community and their children. The case has moved through the federal district and appeals courts, and the attorneys for the case are in the process of applying for review by the US Supreme Court.

April and Jayne are a lesbian couple who have been in a committed domestic partnership for over a decade. They live in south-eastern Michigan. April is a neo-natal intensive care nurse, and Jayne is an emergency room nurse. They are also licensed foster parents. Together, April and Jayne have taken in three special needs newborns who were abandoned at birth by their mothers. The babies were born premature, drug-addicted, and with a host of long-term physical and mental impairments.

DeBoer and Rowse's desire to jointly adopt all three children would establish each parent's legal claim and relationship to their children. Currently one has adopted two of the children and the other has adopted one. Unfortunately the Michigan Adoption Code prohibits joint adoption for their kids and thousands of other children in households like theirs across the state, violating their right to Equal Protection under the United States Constitution. The law is discriminatory, irrational, and only has the effect of hurting children and destabilizing families.

April, Jayne, their attorneys and supporters are working to overturn Michigan's Marriage Amendment, approved by voters in 2004, which prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, as well as alter Michigan's adoption code that currently denies rights and benefits to the children of gay/lesbian couples.

The initial complaint was filed on behalf of April, Jayne, and their children against the State of Michigan in January of 2012. The case of Deboer v. Snyder was decided by Judge Bernard Friedman in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on March 21, 2014. Judge Friedman ruled that there is no rational basis for the Michigan Marriage Amendment and that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

The state of Michigan appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and arguments for both sides were presented on August 6, 2014. The Sixth Circuit Court issued a ruling on November 6, 2014 upholding the Michigan Marriage Amendment. The attorneys for the DeBoer case announced a decision to appeal to the US Supreme Court on the same day.

Please help April and Jayne pursue this case. So far their legal team has been representing them for free, but legal cases like this get very expensive and include fees for expert witnesses, court costs, etc. This puts a huge burden on the April & Jayne, and the attorneys who need to earn a living, pay their bills and take care of their own families and children. These attorneys have worked tirelessly and selflessly to fight for April and Jayne, and ultimately the rights for all LGBT citizens, unmarried heterosexual couples wishing to co-adopt in Michigan, and the children deserving of two loving, legally recognized parents.

Please donate whatever you can. Even just $10 - $20 will help keep this legal challenge moving forward! They are preparing to take this to the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's keep the positive momentum going!! Please forward this campaign to as many people as you know. If you can't afford to donate now you can still help by spreading the word. With everyone's help we CAN achieve equality and justice!
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April De Boer-Rowse 
Hazel Park, MI
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