April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are one of many couples fighting for their rights at the Supreme Court. If the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted, it could benefit thousands of couples across the country.
Since 2011, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a couple from Hazel Park, Mich., have been fighting for their rights to adopt each other’s children. The Huffington Post states that in 2011, they met with a lawyer after a truck nearly collided with their van head-on. Upon the almost-accident, the couple felt it was necessary to figure out what would happen to their children if one or both of them were to pass. The Detroit News states this is what started a four-year battle on Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.
Photo courtesy of MSNBC.
The Huffington Post reported that if something were to happen to one partner, the other partner would not have legal custody of the children she did not legally adopt. It also stated that since they both are not legal parents to all of their children, only the parent that is legally responsible for them can make any legal or medical decisions.
Section 551.1 of Michigan’s legislature states, “Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman.” The Associated Press reported that DeBoer and Rowse are the first couple to challenge the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which passed in 2004.
Today, DeBoer and Rowse are among several cases that the United States Supreme Court will hear as they attempt to come to a decision on same-sex marriage. The Detroit News reported that by June, the ban could be lifted on the remaining states that do not allow same-sex marriage upon receiving the nine justice’s decisions. Today, 37 states allow same-sex marriage.
Although DeBoer and Rowse are a case that has been heard often in the metro Detroit recently, they are not the only couple that is affected by the same-sex marriage ban.
Suzy and Krystal Patroll, another couple from Hazel Park, Mich., got married almost a year ago, May 23, in New Mexico. Krystal explained that although they are legally married in that state, the state of Michigan does not recognize the marriage and she said she cannot even have her married name on her Michigan driver’s license.
Suzy and Krystal Patroll on their wedding day, May 23, 2014.
They have been together over eight years and Krystal has two sons, Matthew, 10 and Ayden, 8. Currently, Krystal and Suzy live in San Antonio, Texas, because Krystal is stationed there through the military. Krystal’s sons are living in Michigan with their father.
If Krystal were to get pregnant now, she explained, “Suzy could not adopt the baby through the state, but through the military she would have full guardianship over the child if anything were to happen to me.”
Krystal said they believe that DeBoer and Rowse are doing the right thing because in most cases, the children get put in foster care or eventually get placed with the blood parent, thus leaving the other partner without his/her family and maybe with no rights to even see them.
Suzy and Krystal after a color run, April 2015.
“Suzy, who has helped raise Ayden since he was four months old, could not take him to the hospital when he was sick because they refused to treat him without a biological parent’s consent,” Krystal said, “All those women are trying to do is protect their children.”
Matthew, Krystal, Suzy and Ayden.
“If these two brave mothers win, the floodgates would open for the protection of all children, including ours,” Krystal said.
Krystal said she does not think the state of Michigan is the place to change the law, which is why the fight is going to the Supreme Court.
“The reason is has gone so far is that no judge wants it on them,” she said. “They wash their hands of it.”
Samantha Patroll, Rob Patroll (Suzy’s father), Donna Patroll (Suzy’s mother), Krystal Patroll, Suzy Patroll, Ayden and Matthew Kopman.
Samantha Patroll, 22, sister of Suzy, says it is not fair that legislatures have the say over something that people have no control over.
“You don’t wake up one day and decide to love someone, wake up another day and decide to love someone else, you don’t choose who you fall in love with,” she said.
Samantha said she likes that DeBoer and Rowse are going so far with the issue, because not only will it benefit them and their family, it will benefit her sisters and nephews as well.
Donna Frye, 54, a Hazel Park resident, says that she does not think it is anyone’s business who marries who, and she feels that the government should not have control over that just because it is not a heterosexual marriage.
“They didn’t say anything to me when I got married to my husband 33 years ago, why do they have a say in [DeBoer and Rowse]’s marriage?” she said.
Desiree Jennings, 24, a Wayne State University student, said that she thinks it is a great thing that DeBoer and Rowse are going to the Supreme Court.
She said she believes that all people should have equal rights, no matter what color their skin is, what their sexuality is or what their religion is.