You might read through the news today and find two names surfacing that you might not have seen before. That’s because the names of these women, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, belong to women who, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states can no longer ban same-sex couples from marrying, were everyday people from Hazel Park, Michigan. They were nurses — also, a lesbian couple.
Thanks in great part to these women — alongside other, equally compelling cases — the U.S Supreme Court ruled this morning that gay couples can now legally marry in Michigan in a 5-4 decision. This decision overrules the 2004 Michigan law passed that stated only heterosexual couples could marry. This major decision in favor of same-sex marriage, of course, goes beyond same-sex couples being able to legally celebrate their nuptials. Joint adoptions and tax filings are now available to same-sex marriages, as well as other equally necessary spousal rights and benefits.
"Today is a great day for Michigan and our entire country," William Greene, executive director of Equality Michigan said in a statement after the ruling. "Marriage equality is now the law of the land. Not so long ago, freedom to marry seemed like a impossible dream. Now, thanks to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse from right here in Hazel Park – and many others – we've entered a wonderful new reality. All of us, no matter who we love, are free to marry in every state and territory of the United States."
This final decision was three and a half years in the making, and began when DeBoer and Rowse decided to sue the state of Michigan after narrowly avoiding a near-fatal car crash that left them wondering what would happen to their three (now four) adopted children in terms of custody if one of them had died. Over the course of those three and a half years, was a nine-day federal trial in Detroit, and various court appeals in Cincinatti that also included cases from Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Despite this lengthy ordeal, these women continued to fight, and ultimately emerged victorious, thanks in great part to DeBoer and Rowse’s lawyers, who argued the former ban on gay marriage violated fundamental, constitutional equal protection rights for their children.
DeBoer and Rowse will be joining 323 gay couples who wed when Michigan’s ban was ruled unconstitutional back in March last year in getting a legal wedding license. There are an estimated 14,598 same-sex couples in Michigan, 7,299 of which plan to marry within the next three years, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Below are compelling quotes from both DeBoer and Rowse following today’s ruling, courtesy of MLive.com:
On what the decision grants their children:
"It really means everything to us that marriages and relationships like ours are going to be recognized and we're going to be treated equally, at least on marriage grounds. Children like ours will no longer be discriminated against and treated like second-class citizens. That's been our main goal all along."
On what the decision means to them:
"This says we are people. We are establishing families and we're just like everyone else. We're the next door neighbor, we're your co-worker, we're your sister, we're your friend, we're your child, and we do deserve the same rights as everyone else and our kids deserve the same rights. We're starting to see the discrimination just shouldn't be there."
On what’s next:
“We have to plan a wedding and have some kids!”
On the future for same-sex couples:
“Congratulations! We're behind you, we're supporting you, obviously we're so happy for you because this is a great day in our lives and everybody's lives in the United States. Every state where you can get married, I hope you're lined up.”