Relaymedia

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban, Same-Sex Adoption Case to Face Trial in February

( [email protected] ) Oct 16, 2013 07:03 PM EDT
A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday said a lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple seeking to adopt each other's children will be decided in a trial on February 25.
April DeBoer, second from left, sits with her daughter Ryanne, 3, left, and Jayne Rowse, fourth from left, and her sons Jacob, 3, middle, and Nolan, 4, right, at their home in Hazel Park on March 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday said a lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple seeking to adopt each other's children will be decided in a trial on February 25.

The case is brought by April DeBoer, 42, and Jayne Rowse, 48, a lesbian couple who in January 2012 challenged the state's ban on same-sex adoption. They later decided also to take on the the state's ban on gay marriage, which 59% of voters approved in 2004. 

U.S. District Judge Bernard was expected to decide on the constitutionality of Michigan's ban on gay marriage and determine whether or not the state is unlawfully discriminating against DeBoer and Rowse who want to get married and adopt each others' children. 

After hearing from both sides Wednesday, Friedman instead scheduled a trial date for February 25.

"I'm in the middle," Friedman said. "I have to decide this as a matter of law and I intend to do so." The judge, who will conduct the nonjury trial, said he wants to determine if there is a legitimate state interest in maintaining the same-sex marriage ban.  

At least 11 county clerks offices had been prepared to issue licenses to gay couples if Friedman had ruled in favor of overturning the same-sex marriage ban, according to LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan.  

As the arguments were being presented in court, the state's Republican attorney general, Bill Schuette, confirmed that he had instructed county clerks that they should not issue same-sex marriage licenses until the case reaches a final decision.

The Michigan constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2004, was the among the first such statutes to face legal challenges since the historic Supreme Court rulings in June struck down a key part of the federal law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as Prop. 8, California's gay marriage ban.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.