Michigan's Religious Exemption for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies: State-Sanctioned Discrimination or Guardian of Religious Liberty?

By McQueen, Allison L. | Notre Dame Law Review, December 2017 | Go to article overview

Michigan's Religious Exemption for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies: State-Sanctioned Discrimination or Guardian of Religious Liberty?


McQueen, Allison L., Notre Dame Law Review


INTRODUCTION

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse didn't plan to bring the fight for marital equality to the United States Supreme Court. In fact, the couple never set out to challenge Michigan's same-sex marriage ban. At least, not initially. (1)

The Michigan couple celebrated their union in 2008 with hopes that, one day, they would be able to legally marry. (2) As Michigan voters had approved an amendment (Michigan's Marriage Amendment, or the "MMA") to their state constitution that prohibited same-sex marriage four years earlier, (3) the couple put aside thoughts of marriage and focused on expanding their family.

As Ms. DeBoer and Ms. Rowse became more familiar with their state's adoption laws, they learned that Michigan, like many other states, does not permit two unmarried people to jointly adopt a child. (4) Unable to build their family together as a couple, Ms. DeBoer and Ms. Rowse individually adopted four children: Ms. Rowse adopted Nolan and Jacob while Ms. DeBoer adopted Rylee and Ryanne. (5) Though the couple raised all four of their children together as a cohesive family, each parent had no legal claim to the children her partner had adopted. (6) Like many similarly situated families, this legal technicality inhibited one parent from making routine medical decisions for her children, listing herself as an official "parent" on school records, and providing health insurance and financial support for the family, among other restrictions. (7) In the worst case scenario, unmarried same-sex couples' inability to jointly adopt their children could prevent one of them from making a life-altering medical decision for a child in the event of an emergency. (8)

Ms. DeBoer and Ms. Rowse realized that, should one of them pass away unexpectedly, "[a] judge could easily order any child adopted by a deceased parent to live with a distant relative or in foster care" rather than with their surviving mother. (9) In order to safeguard their family, Ms. DeBoer and Ms. Rowse decided to meet with an attorney to draw up guardianship papers. (10) To their dismay, the attorney advised them that, under Michigan law, guardianship papers would be virtually worthless. (11) Instead, she recommended that they file a federal lawsuit challenging section 24 of Michigan's Adoption Code on the grounds that they were denied joint adoption because they were not and could not be married. (12)

What began as a challenge to Michigan's Adoption Code radically changed course when a district court judge suggested that they amend their claim to take on Michigan's law banning same-sex marriage. (13) Ms. DeBoer and Ms. Rowse took the judge's advice and the suit went forward. (14) To the surprise of many, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan held that "the MMA impermissibly discriminate[d] against same-sex couples in violation ofthe Equal Protection Clause." (15) However, a mere eight months after the MMA was declared unconstitutional, same-sex marriages in Michigan and three other states were halted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which held that the decision to limit marriage to heterosexual couples did not violate same-sex couples' due process and equal protection rights. (16)

The end of April DeBoer and Jane Rowse's story is now well known. In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court extended the fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples, and Obergefell v. Hodges (17) joined the ranks of historic cases like Brown (18) Loving, (19) and Roe. (20) Much like those cases, the Supreme Court's landmark decision did not bring an end to debate over the issue it had "resolved." As both ChiefJustice Roberts (21) and Justice Thomas (22) predicted in their dissenting opinions, the Court's holding has raised serious questions about religious liberty.

As April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse's experience demonstrates, most of the legal obstacles faced by gay couples hoping to expand their families through adoption stemmed from prohibitions on marriage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Michigan's Religious Exemption for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies: State-Sanctioned Discrimination or Guardian of Religious Liberty?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.