Michigan Governor Denies That Same-Sex Families Are Deprived Of Any Rights


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder (Credit: AP/Al Goldis)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder (Credit: AP/Al Goldis)

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) have filed their formal response to a suit by a lesbian couple challenging the state’s amendment banning same-sex marriage. The couple are raising three special-needs children together but are prohibited from adopting each other’s children and becoming a unified family. The state had originally requested the case be dismissed out right, but a federal judge rejected that request, suggesting in the days after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned that the couple had a viable case.

Snyder and Schuette’s filing responds line-by-line to the couple’s brief, repeatedly denying that April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are a family since each of their children can only call one of them a legal guardian. For every example of a right and protection the couple argues they are excluded from, such as protections related to the death of a spouse, public and private safety nets for families, and health care decisions, the state argues that these claims are simply “untrue” and that the family has “not been adversely treated.”

Only briefly does the state explain how it intends to defend the ban on same-sex marriage::

The Michigan Marriage Amendment fosters the State’s legitimate interest in promoting responsible natural procreation, which, in turn, promotes raising children in a home environment with both a mother and a father, giving the children the benefit of having a role model of both sexes. […]

The Michigan Marriage Amendment does not violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. There is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

When House Republicans made such arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, the tactic flopped miserably. Justice Anthony Kennedy outlined the many ways that DOMA, by not recognizing same-sex couples’ relationships, burdened their families, specifically citing the way the law “humiliates” children by making it difficult for them “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family.” It seems unlikely that regurgitating these arguments will be effective in a federal court in the wake of Windsor.

Moreover, Snyder and Schuette’s “responsible procreation” argument is irrelevant to the case before the court. This lesbian couple is already raising three special-needs children, and there is nothing the amendment is going to do to “promote” raising them with a mother and a father instead. They’ve already been legally adopted by one of their moms and it seems doubtful that either DeBoer or Rowse have any plans to marry a man. There’s no social science that upholds the claim that “having a role model of both sexes” is of any benefit to children; in fact, the most recent research shows that what truly matters is how committed a couple is to each other and their children, not what sex they are.

Michigan’s elected officials seem to be living in a world where same-sex families simply do not exist and thus nobody is negatively impacted by the state’s bans on same-sex marriage and adoption. The validity of DeBower and Rowse’s family speaks for itself.

(HT: Kathleen Perrin.)