Hazel Park couple who fought state marriage ban to wed

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Southfield — Wedding bells will ring next month for the Hazel Park couple who made history when their lawsuit challenging Michigan’s gay marriage ban was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, which ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in America.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse will say their “I do’s” Aug. 22 in Southfield, DeBoer said Tuesday.

DeBoer shared some of the details of the big day with The Detroit News.

She will wear a cream-colored wedding dress and Rowse will sport a black suit or a tuxedo with red accents. The couple’s three daughters will be the flower girls and accompany DeBoer down the aisle while their two sons will escort Rowse.

“The idea is that the girls will give me away,” DeBoer said.

She said her cake will be chocolate with butter-cream icing.

“The kids are definitely excited about eating cake,” DeBoer said.

The hall where the couple will wed, whose location DeBoer did not disclose, holds 300 guests.

DeBoer said their five children are very excited over their upcoming ceremony, which DeBoer says will be brief.

“We’ve had a long road,” DeBoer said. “We’re excited that our love will be valid and that our kids will be protected (legally).”

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will officiate. The judge ruled in the couple’s favor March 2014 that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. His decision was stayed and the state appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which decided cases from three other states along with the Michigan ban.

State voters in 2004 passed a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. The state also banned gay and lesbian couples from adopting.

The couple’s five adopted children were the reason DeBoer and Rowse first filed a lawsuit against the state’s adoption code. The lawsuit was later amended, at Friedman’s suggestion, to challenge the state’s laws on same-sex marriage.

DeBoer said the rings, her wedding dress, floral arrangements, the hall, food and other accoutrements are being donated by local vendors and one as far away as Midland. The couple plan to have a “Familymoon” in Florida. The excited bride-to-be would not put a pricetag on the wedding, saying it’s “priceless.”

Rowse and DeBoer met 15 years ago and have been together for 11 years.

For wedding planner Amanda Laidlaw, the owner of Plymouth-based With A Little Help, landing the historic wedding event has left her “speechless.”

“It feels wonderful to plan something like this,” Laidlaw said Tuesday. “It will be remembered not just by family and friends of the couple.”

Laidlaw said the couple and their upcoming marriage changes “the way people are talking about love and marriage ... finally.”


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