WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, plaintiffs in four same-sex marriage cases presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States. DeBoer et al v. Snyder, filed by Michigan couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, asks the Court to establish whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry.
In court today, Mary Bonauto of Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ), who presented oral arguments on behalf of the DeBoer-Rowse family, spoke of marriage as the foundation of family, and said that times can blind us to what we later realize is in fact discrimination. During the opposing argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that a biological relationship between parents and children is not necessary for bonding.
"From the beginning, and for the last four years, this has been about protecting our children, and providing them with the legal benefits and stability of a family united by marriage," said DeBoer. "Today we have so much hope that the Supreme Court will allow families like ours to have the same safety and security as all other families, and we know we've now done everything possible to achieve that."
"I believe the Court gave us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day same-sex couples are not excluded from the joy, the security, and the full citizenship signified by the freedom to marry," said Bonauto. "The road that we've all traveled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right and I was humbled to stand up for the petitioners."
DeBoer and Rowse are both hospital nurses and the parents of four adopted children, two with special needs. They originally challenged Michigan's adoption code so that they could adopt their children jointly rather than as "single" individuals, and provide them the security of having two legal parents. They later challenged the state's marriage ban since it keeps April and Jayne, as well as the children, from being legally recognized as a family and from the protections other families enjoy. They argue that state laws banning marriage equality violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. While 37 states currently recognize marriage equality, Michigan is one of the few remaining states that does not.
"This journey has been emotional and life-changing," said Rowse. "We're grateful to everyone in Michigan and around the country who has kept us in their thoughts and prayers, grateful for the support of our attorneys, and most of all to our children for their patience and strength."
The DeBoer-Rowse family is represented by Michigan attorneys Carole M. Stanyar; Dana Nessel of Nessel and Kessel Law; Kenneth Mogill of Mogill, Posner & Cohen; Wayne State University Law Professor Robert Sedler; and Bonauto.
"April, Jayne and their family never imagined they would ultimately be a part of a precedent-setting, historic case which will decide the issue of marriage equality for the entire nation," said Nessel. "It is time for our state and our country to give families like April and Jayne's the full equal protection of the law. The United States will simply be a better place when there is equality for all people."
Along with Michigan, cases from Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee also make up the group Obergefell v. Hodges argued today. Audio from today's arguments are to be available at 2 p.m. EST at www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/oral_arguments.aspx. A ruling is expected at the end of June.
About National Marriage Challenge
National Marriage Challenge, formerly Michigan Marriage Challenge, is a non-profit organization run by local Michigan residents committed to marriage equality in Michigan and across the country. National Marriage Challenge is an accredited 501( c )( 3 ) formed for the purpose of supporting the DeBoer-Rowse Family in their legal effort. 100% of contributions to National Marriage Challenge go towards litigation and education expenses on DeBoer v Snyder. For more information about the case, or to contribute, please visit www.NationalMarriageChallenge.com .