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October 24, 2013 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-10-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

metro

Gay Marriage Ruling Delayed

Judge Friedman's decision to set trial date prompts reactions.

Ronelle Grier

Contributing Writer

D

isappointment and surprise
were the overriding reactions
of the overflow courtroom
crowd after U. S. District Judge Bernard
Friedman declined to rule on a case that
challenged current state laws preventing
same-sex couples from marrying and
jointly adopting children.
In an emotionally charged hearing on
Oct. 16, arguments
were heard from attor-
neys representing the
state of Michigan and
the two Hazel Park
women who have been
fighting for the right
to jointly adopt their
Judge Bernard three special needs
children. Friedman
Friedman
concluded the pro-
ceeding by dismissing the motions filed
by both sides and setting a trial date of
Feb. 25, 2014, where expert witnesses
will be called to testify about the effi-
cacy of gay parents to provide children
with a quality upbringing.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2012
by April DeBoer, 42, and Jayne Rowse,
48, to challenge the Michigan Adoption
Code, which prohibits gay and lesbian
couples from jointly adopting a child.
The case was later expanded to include
the 2004 Michigan law forbidding mar-
riage between same-sex couples.
The plaintiffs, both registered nurses,
have three adopted children, all with
special needs. Two of the children,
Nolan, 4, and Jacob, 3, were adopted by
Rowse, while Ryanne, 3, was adopted by
DeBoer. Under current Michigan law,
because the couple cannot marry, each
parent has legal standing only with her
own adopted child(ren).
Kristin Heyse, the lawyer representing
the office of Michigan Attorney General
Bill Schuette, claimed the ideal environ-
ment is a home where a child is raised
by two parents of the opposite sex. She
said this case is not an attack on the gay
community, acknowledging the plain-
tiffs are doing a "wonderful job" raising
their children.
Carole Stanyar, one of the plaintiffs'
attorneys, argued that denying same-sex
couples the right to marry and jointly
adopt children violates their basic con-
stitutional rights.
"There are no second-class citizens
in this country:' she told the court.
"The equal protection clause [included
in the 14th Amendment of the U. S.

18 October 24 • 2013

JN

Constitution] must be expanded to
accommodate changing traditions:"
She said there is no factual basis
to support any claims that same-sex
parents are not as competent as male-
female couples. She said research by
several medical and social science
organizations, such as the American
Psychological Association, the American
Medical Association, the American
Academy of Pediatrics and the National
Association of Social Workers, has
shown that the sex of the parents has no
bearing on the welfare of the children,
and that children benefit from living
with parents who have a stable mar-
riage.
"This issue has been litigated, vetted,
researched, studied and litigated some
more she said, "and every day that this
goes on, we're hurting the most vulner-
able members of our society."

Lisa Brown's Involved

As the public official responsible for
issuing marriage licenses in the county
where DeBoer and Rowse reside,
Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown was
also named as a defendant in the law-
suit. Her attorney, Michael Pitt of Royal
Oak, arguing before
the court, referred
to the current law
as "state-sanctioned
humiliation:'
He said the clerk
does not agree with
the state's position
Lisa Brown
and is prepared to
begin issuing marriage
licenses to same-sex couples as soon as
the law allows.
"If not now, when?" Pitt asked.
Following the hearing, Brown
expressed disappointment that a deci-
sion had not been reached, adding
that many gay couples had visited or
contacted her office in anticipation of
a decision that would allow them to
obtain marriage licenses.
"I think the attorney general needs to
go back to civics class:' she said, refer-
ring to a memorandum sent by Schuette
to the clerks in all 83 Michigan counties
ordering them not to issue marriage
licenses to same-sex couples regardless
of Friedman's ruling.
Susan Horowitz, editor and publisher
of Between the Lines, a local weekly
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen-
der) publication, described the hear-
ing as "really emotional:' but said she
believes the upcoming trial will allow
the plaintiffs' case to be stronger if it is

eventually appealed.
"It was hard to listen to the state's
arguments:' she said. "They were so
totally dismissive, it
was like being some-
where back in time,
like any group that has
been discriminated
against:'
Dana Nessel,
Stanyar's co-counsel,
Dana Nessel
said she looks forward
to providing the court
with numerous expert witnesses who
will support her clients' position; she
also expressed doubt about the other
side's ability to produce evidence sup-
porting the continuation of laws prohib-
iting gay marriage and adoption.
"Maybe they will be able to find a wit-
ness who will say same-sex parents are
inadequate; if so, I look forward to cross-
examining that witness," Nessel said.
Many observers expected a different
outcome as the result of a U.S. Supreme
Court decision last June that legalized
same-sex marriages in California and
directed the federal government to
provide benefits to gay couples living in
states where same-sex unions are legal.
Despite disappointment over
Friedman's decision, local gay rights
supporters agree a trial could be ben-
eficial in the likely event the case is
appealed.

Some Rabbis Ready

Michael Phillips, president of the Jewish
Gay Network (JGN), said several local
rabbis were ready to start performing
same-sex marriages if Friedman's ruling
had been different.
"We at JGN were very thankful,
proud and impressed that these rabbis
stepped forward:' Phillips said. "Even
though we were disappointed with Judge
Friedman's decision, we want the best
outcome for our state and nation ... It
is sad that so many loving same-gender
couples and families cannot enjoy the
same rights as others in our state:'
Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg of
Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy was
one of the rabbis looking forward to
performing local same-sex marriages.
"It's been a long time coming; he
said, adding that he and his life partner,
who were legally married in Canada,
will probably have another ceremony
when the Michigan law is changed.
"It's a terrific miscarriage of justice that
so many loving couples are denied this
right and that the state is denying chil-
dren the right to have two parents:'



ADL To Host
Silent Art Auction,
Student Art Contest

T

he Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) Michigan region will hold
ArtWorks ADL: Justice, Advocacy,
& Art on Nov. 17 at the Janice Charach
Gallery at the Jewish Community Center in
West Bloomfield.
The exhibition will be from 4-7 p.m.;
the program is at 5:30 p.m. ArtWorks is the
first annual art exhibition, fundraiser and
silent auction event highlighting the talents
of nationally and locally acclaimed artists
who focus on one or more aspects of ADts
mission, including anti-Semitism, extrem-
ism, racism, education, religious freedom
and Israel advocacy for the benefit of ADL.
Co-chairs are Pam Bloom, Leonard Sahn,
Miriam Svidler and Michael Chosid.
All artwork will be included in a silent
auction. The goal of ArtWorks ADL is to
engage, empower and educate the Detroit
community about the mission and impact
of ADL through art.
Artists to date include Tony Roko, Bowen
Kline, Michael Phillips, Donna Pellagato,
Cynthia Nielson, Eileen Aboulafia, Jo
Strausz Rosen, Michelle Sider, Bruce
Finsilver, Ron Steam, Robert Schefman,
Deanna Sperka, Ed Meese, Margaret
Baczewksi, Bruce Reinfeld, Thatcher Wine,
Miriam Svidler, Taylor Wright, Daniel Kelly,
Elana Weinstein, Nada Jurisich-Fontana
and Alexis Zimberg. There will also be an
interactive art piece demonstrated by vari-
ous artists during the auction.
ADL Michigan is hosting ArtWorks ADL
Jr., an art competition for Metro Detroit
students in grades K-12. The goal is to get
young people to think about what hate
means to them and to share their interpre-
tation of how a world without hate would
look and ways we can work together to
make that interpretation a reality.
Grand prize winners in each grade will
receive $100. Runners-up will receive $18.
Grand prize winners and runners-up will
have their artwork displayed and be invited
to the ArtWorks ADL event. On Nov. 3, vot-
ers can go to the JN website, www.
thejewishnews.com , and to www.michigan.
adl.org. The school with the most entries
will receive a half-day Anti-Defamation
League A World of Difference Institute edu-
cational workshop for educators or students.
ArtWorks ADL has been underwritten
by the Buckfire and Elconin families in
memory of David Buckfire.
The program includes a strolling cock-
tail party with hor d'oeuvres and wine.
General admission tickets are $75 and
$50 for young professionals (age 36 and
younger). For tickets, go to www.adl.org/
artworksmichigan, or contact Jaimee Wine
at jwine@adl.org or (248) 353-7553.



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