Michigan couple files appeal to Supreme Court over same-sex marriage ban


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Two Michigan nurses asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — a move that could eventually resolve the issue of marriage equality once and for all.

The 39-page filing from the couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, asks the nation's high court to find that "prohibiting same-sex couples from joining in marriage violates our nation's most cherished and essential guarantees."

If the court opts to hear the case, it would cap a journey for DeBoer and Rowse that began in 2013 when the couple first challenged a Michigan law that says only married couples and single people can adopt children.

As MT previously reported, Rowse had legally adopted 4-year-old Nolan and 3-year-old Jacob; DeBoer adopted Ryanne, 3. But the lesbian couple realized they had no legal right to their partner’s children — in the worst case scenario, say, if Rowse unexpectedly died, DeBoer would likely lose custody of Nolan and Jacob.

After the case was filed against Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman suggested the issue at hand was Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. This past March, Friedman overturned the ban, and declined to issue a stay. The following day, over 300 couples wed in four counties across the state, a move that's now in limbo because, as Schuette put it, "it is as if the marriages never existed." Schuette asked a judge in a court filing to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court consider the issue. 

And it seems almost a certainty the high court will now: Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that upheld Michigan's ban, finding that voters should ultimately have the final say on whether a state can ban same-sex marriage.

In a nutshell: the appellate court sided with those who agree that voters can approve an amendment that enshrines discrimination into Michigan's Constitution. (The dissenting judge in the decision, Martha Daughtrey, righteously took her colleagues in the majority to task in a blistering 21-page dissent.) 

In a rather tame statement issued after the Sixth Circuit's decision, Schuette said, “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled, and Michigan’s constitution remains in full effect. As I have stated repeatedly, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final word on this issue. The sooner they rule, the better, for Michigan and the country.”

So far, Schuette's office has spent at least $40,000 arguing the case. That figure will unquestionably be higher when the case eventually concludes. 

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