Federal judge rules same-sex adoption case can move forward; Trial date expected to be set July 10

(WXYZ) - Citing the Supreme Court's recent landmark ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal judge has ruled that a Michigan couple's lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex adoptions can move forward.

The ruling came in the lawsuit filed by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The couple is suing because the state will not let them jointly adopt their three children because of section 24 of the Michigan Adoption Code and Michigan's constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Under section 24 of the Michigan Adoption Code adoptions are restricted to either single people or married couples. Michigan's constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

DeBoer and Rowse are arguing that enforcement and defense of section 24 of the Michigan Adoption Code violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

They are also arguing that the state's ban on same sex marriage in not valid under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

In today's ruling, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the DeBoer and Rowse's claims have sufficient merit to proceed to trial. Friedman also wrote that the case that struck down DOMA, also known as United States V. Windsor, provides fodder for both parties to use in the case before him.

Friedman writes, "Construing the facts in the light most favorable to (DeBoer and Rowse), and in view of the Supreme Court's current statement of the law, this Court cannot say that plaintiff's claims for relief are without plausibility. Plaintiffs are entitled to their day in court and they shall have it."

Both Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette are named as defendants in the case. They argued that DeBoer and Rowse cannot demonstrate that Michigan's same-sex marriage ban "lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest." They are also arguing that DeBoer and Rowse "do not possess a fundamental right to marry another individual of the same gender."

Schuette has released the following statement about the ruling,

We are disappointed in Judge Friedman's decision but we look forward to aggressively defending Michigan's constitution.

Friedman has set a scheduling conference for Wednesday, July 10 at 3:00 pm, when it is expected a trial date will be set.

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