Judge's Stay Delays Justice

New federal court action delays justice for children and their parents
Thursday, March 7, 2013

LANSING — In a historic case that sets the stage for broader progress toward equality, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman has stayed a case challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Preferring to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on related cases, Judge Friedman has delayed ruling on a case that pits adoptive parents and children against Michigan’s discriminatory constitutional ban on marriage equality.

The case was brought by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, both nurses and licensed foster care parents recognized by the state of Michigan, who separately adopted children who had been surrendered or abandoned by their parents. Because of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and Michigan’s interlocking ban on unmarried couples adopting children jointly, Michigan denied these committed parents the opportunity to adopt their children together. As a result, many Michigan children have been denied the legal, emotional and financial benefit of two stable, legally responsible parents.

“I am disappointed that Michigan families and their children will have to wait longer for equal rights,” state Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said. “Michigan families deserve equal rights now. That’s why I’m calling on my colleagues to allow a vote on HB 4060, ensuring that more children have two parents to provide emotional and financial support. We have parents ready to step up to foster and adopt needy kids; now we need a state that embraces and supports these parents regardless of whom they love.”

HB 4060, also known as the Second Parent Adoption bill, would provide family court judges the option of granting adoption to two unmarried individuals when the judge determines that such an arrangement would be most beneficial to the child. This follows a long tradition in family law of tailoring justice to the needs of the child. Unfortunately, Michigan’s current ban on second-parent adoptions ignores the well-being of children to cater to archaic prejudices.