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Michigan officials file response brief in marriage equality case

DeBoer Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

By Jacob CombsMichigan state seal

This week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, both Republicans, filed their answering brief in the marriage equality case known as DeBoer v. Snyder, a challenge to the state’s equal marriage ban by a lesbian couple who originally sued to obtain joint adoption of their three children but were later encouraged by the judge hearing their case to expand that case to include a marriage challenge.

In their amended complaint, the couple wrote that the Michigan Marriage Amendment–which limits marriage to opposite-sex couples–violates the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.  The couple urged the judge to consider the amendment under the “‘important and substantial relationship’ test,” but also argued that “because the Michigan Marriage Amendment serves no legitimate government interest, it fails the rational basis test, and cannot survive any form of scrutiny.”

Unsurprisingly, Snyder and Schuette disagreed, and used their reply brief to refute the plaintiffs’ arguments.  Although both plaintiffs, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, presented themselves as parents of their three children in their complaint, the state officials deny that both women are the parents of their children, instead falling back on the technical legal argument that “Plaintiff DeBoer is the legal parent of R and Plaintiff Rowse is the legal parent of J and N.”

Throughout their brief filing, Snyder and Schuette repeatedly utilize phrases such as “State Defendants deny that Plaintiffs have been subjected to adverse treatment” or “State Defendants deny any disparate treatment or equal-protection violation.”  The state officials reject the suggestion to use the important and substantial relationship test, arguing instead in favor of a rational basis test, which they allege the Michigan Marriage Amendment clears:

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. Further, the State’s marriage laws satisfy the rational basis test under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In conclusion, Snyder and Schuette write that “Plaintiffs lack standing to assert some or all of their claims,” “Plaintiffs have not stated a claim for which relief can be granted” and urge the could to “exercise its discretion to abstain from adjudicating these claims.”

Oral arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder are planned for October 1.

After the jump, you can read the full filing, via Scribd.  (H/t to Kathleen, as usual.)

[scribd id=155454815 key=key-1x59tapza2lbgmbpzmlg mode=scroll]

1 Comment

  • 1. Victor Woods  |  January 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    This is really dissapointing… I hate this… Well Hope other states will not get into it..

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