Preparations begin for trial on gay marriage ban

Preparations begin for trial on gay marriage ban

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The DeBower-Rowse family The DeBower-Rowse family
(WJBK) -

The trial in federal court challenging Michigan's ban on gay marriage and adoption by same sex couples begins Tuesday, Feb. 25. A federal judge has set aside at least eight days for a trial on Michigan's ban on gay marriage.

This is the first same sex marriage case to go to trial since the Prop 8 case in California. Meantime, states such as Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma have been overturning their bans on same sex marriage.

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, two local nurses, hope that overturn happens here in Michigan.

The two have propelled the case forward, fighting for joint custody of their three children. Jayne has adopted a five-year-old and four-year-old boy; April has adopted a four-year-old girl.

"The bottom line for this fight is that we want our kids protected and our kids to have equal rights," says DeBoer.

Rowse is undergoing surgery to have her gall bladder removed, a routine procedure but if anything goes wrong - DeBoer has no legal rights to the sons.

Attorney Dana Nessel says that custody is one of many rights, in addition to healthcare and social security, denied to same sex couples in Michigan because they can't marry. They're bringing in a host of experts in psychology, sociology and child welfare in court hoping to prove Michigan's ban violates the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.

"It is never too soon for justice. It is never too soon for equal rights and we're very excited that court after court after court is striking down these bans," says Nessel.

The State Attorney General's Office released a statement regarding the upcoming trial:

"In Michigan, the voters recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable. Michigan citizens enshrined that decision in the State constitution, and Attorney General Schuette is fulfilling his duty to defend it. There is a broad body of social research that says kids do best when raised by a mom and dad. We're defending the constitutional measure that supports that commonsense policy."

Michigan voters banned gay marriage in 2004.

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