In a decision reminiscent of President Obama’s refusal to defend DOMA against challenges, Lisa Brown, the recently elected Clerk for Oakland County, Michigan, has withdrawn the county’s request to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer Rowse challenging Michigan’s prohibition of same-sex marriage and adoption.
The lawsuit, originally filed in January 2012, asked the Court to find Michigan’s adoption law unconstitutional because, although it permits the women to adopt separately, it will not allow Jayne and April to jointly adopt the three children they are parenting together. The couple argued that the law deprives their children of the many rights and benefits of a two-parent family.
As The New Civil Rights Movement reported last August, the U.S. District Court Judge hearing the case, Bush appointee Judge Bernard Friedman, suggested to the couple that they amend their complaint to include a challenge to the constitutionality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, which they decided to do. The couple named Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schute, and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard, in their lawsuit. Lisa Brown, a Democrat, defeated Bullard, a Republican in the November election.
A motions hearing will be held in the case before Judge Friedman on March 7, where attorneys for the State will ask that the lawsuit be dismissed. Oakland County Clerk Bullard had originally filed a similar motion. Ms. Brown’s decision to withdraw the County’s objection to the lawsuit is seen as an indication Oakland County, where the couple resides, wishes the case to be heard and resolved by the Court.
“In my view, it was a pretty courageous thing to do.” Said Dana Nessel, one of the attorneys representing Jayne and April.
The hearing March 7, will be held at Wayne State University at the request of Judge Friedman, who has indicated he wishes to use the proceedings as an educational experience.
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