Court to decide Friday if it'll hear gay marriage case

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The nation's highest court is expected Friday to review a Hazel Park couple's federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Michigan's gay marriage ban and could decide if it will hear arguments in the case.

The review by the U.S. Supreme Court of the DeBoer case will be done along with other same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, states represented by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld bans in Michigan and the other states.

A same-sex marriage case out of Louisiana also will be among the cases the court will look at.

Dana Nessel, the co-counsel for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse who are challenging the state's 10-year-old gay marriage ban, said Wednesday "we're very hopeful they will take our case and there will be a decision on the merit and the constitutionality of the ban."

The court has three options. It can take up the case, not take it up or put it over for review until next year, Nessel said. She added it would take only four of the nine justices to determine there are grounds for further review of the case.

In November, the state of Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the state's gay marriage ban and also urged the court to quickly take up the DeBoer case.

In the state's 32-page filing with the country's highest court, attorneys say the legal argument on marriage comes down to Michigan voters.

"This case comes down to two words: Who decides," according to the brief. "The history of our democracy demonstrates the wisdom of allowing the people to decide important issues at the ballot box, rather than ceding those decisions to unelected judges."

On March 21, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's gay marriage ban saying it is unconstitutional.

DeBoer and Rowse are also seeking to legally adopt each other's children, which the state's adoption code has banned because they are gay.

In 2004, Michigan voters approved the Michigan Marriage Amendment which declares marriage is between "one man and one woman." But Friedman said Michigan's gay marriage ban denies same-sex couples equal protection under the law.

DeBoer and Rowse vow to keep fighting for the right to legally marry.

"When we first brought this case, we vowed to do anything we had to in order to protect our children and our family, even if that meant having to take our case all the way to the Supreme Court," DeBoer said recently.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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