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Lesbian couple sues to overturn Mich. adoption law

Michigan's April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse were at the center of the Supreme Court case.
Jayne Rowse, left, and April DeBoer with their three children.

A lesbian couple from metro Detroit is suing to overturn a state law that prevents same-sex couples from jointly adopting children.

"We're doing anything any parent would do," said April DeBoer, who has adopted a daughter, 2. Her partner Jayne Rowse has adopted two sons, ages 3 and 2. But they are prevented by state law from adopting the children jointly.

"I am not recognized [by the state]," DeBoer said. "I'm a legal stranger to my sons."

The couples' attorneys say the law’s effects on DeBoer's and Rowse's three children are “devastating.”

"The child cannot obtain health insurance from that parent, the child has no right of inheritance from that parent, the child can be permanently taken away from that parent at any time," said Dana Nessel. "If that parent dies that child is not eligible for survivorship benefits."

Nessel says because Michigan’s constitution prohibits same-sex marriage, the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Detroit.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder are named defendants in the suit. A spokeswoman for the governor says the couple’s complaint seems more appropriate to direct to the legislature, which can amend the statute. 

Click here to see DeBoer and Rowse's website 

Click here to see the complaint.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.