The couple who challenged Michigan's ban on gay marriages are taking their battle to the U.S. Supreme Court with a case that seeks to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the court Monday, seeking to overturn the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 decision to uphold the gay marriage ban in Michigan. The appeals court ruling, made earlier this month, also affected cases from Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.
The crux of DeBoer and Rowse's petition is simple and sweeping: It asks the court to determine "whether a state violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples the right to marry."
"Gay and lesbian citizens in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are denied the fundamental freedom and equal right to marry, and their families are deprived of the status, dignity, security, and stability that marriage brings," the petition states. "This Court should grant the petition and hold that prohibiting same-sex couples from joining in marriage violates our nation’s most cherished and essential guarantees."
Michigan's attorney general, who has rigorously defended the constitutionality of the gay marriage ban, has also encouraged the Supreme Court to review the case.
Petitions have additionally been filed in the cases from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. As SCOTUSblog reports, the cases are ready to be submitted to justices as soon as state replies are filed. They appear to have arrived in court in time to be heard and decided in the current term, which ends mid-2015. However, the Supreme Court must first decide to review any of the cases.
In October, the Supreme Court declined petitions seeking the appeal of rulings that struck down gay marriage bans in five states. However, at the time, appeals courts had not disagreed on the issue.
The petition from DeBoer and Rowse argues that the Supreme Court should hear their case in part because the 6th Circuit decision conflicts with four other circuit courts that "concluded that the Constitution cannot tolerate laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying."
The Ohio and Tennessee cases revolve around recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. The petition stemming from the Ohio case says the state "treated Petitioners as second-class citizens whose most intimate relationships have been denied the dignity and respect they deserve."
DeBoer and Rowse began their legislative fight in 2012 in a suit that sought to change Michigan's adoption code. They had adopted three children -- two with special needs -- and were seeking joint custody and equal parental rights.
However, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman recommended they try a broader approach and instead challenge the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban, an amendment to the state constitution approved by 59 percent of voters in the state in 2004. In March of this year, Friedman struck it down, leading the way for the appeals court reversal this month.
“When we first brought this case, we vowed to do anything we had to in order to protect our children and our family, even if that meant having to take our case all the way to the Supreme Court,” DeBoer said in a statement Monday. “That day is finally here, and we hope the Court sees fit to accept our case and provide the same security to our family that other families count on.”
Read the full petition to the U.S. Supreme Court below.