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Lesbian couple at center of Supreme Court fight completes legal journey with joint adoptions

Rick Pluta

The legal journey for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse wrapped up in an Oakland County courtroom, where they finalized adoptions for their children. DeBoer and Rowse are the couple who successfully challenged Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

Applause, tears, laughter, and cake were all part of the celebration presided over by Oakland County Circuit Judge Karen McDonald.

“I’m very honored,” she said before finalizing the joint adoptions of the children.

DeBoer and Rowse’s legal fight took them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the court struck down same-sex marriage bans across the country. But Rowse says their fight was always about the right to jointly adopt their children and ensure them the same security as other kids.

“We did everything for them,” she said. “The fight was all about protecting their rights.”

Michigan does not allow unmarried couples to adopt children together, so the voter-approved 2004 amendment to the state constitution effectively barred DeBoer and Rowse from sharing parenting rights, benefits, and legal responsibilities.

DeBoer says the family is looking forward now to a quieter life out of the spotlight.

“We’re ready,” she said. “We’re ready to settle down and be a family and live our happily ever after now.”


Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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