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For 2 Same-Sex Newlyweds, Path To Matrimony Wove Through High Court


Two of the plaintiffs in the nation's landmark same-sex marriage case tied the knot yesterday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that couples like April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse have a constitutional right to get married. As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, their road to the High Court and this weekend's vows was a long one.


TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: April DeBoer wore a white gown with lace and beating on the bodice. Jayne Rowse wore a suit. Beside them were their four children, Ryanne, Rylee, Nolan and Jacob. DeBoer's vows included a nod to their long and unusual journey to this day.


APRIL DEBOER: Little did I know 15 years ago when I met you that you would have brought me four beautiful kids and dragged me into the United States Supreme Court.


JAYNE ROWSE: You're welcome.

DEBOER: Thank you.

SAMILTON: During their relationship, Rowse and DeBoer had each adopted two children because Michigan law didn't allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt. When they sued solely for joint adoption rights for same-sex couples, federal district judge, Bernard Friedman, told them they had to amend their lawsuit and make it a challenge to Michigan's same-sex marriage ban. Friedman ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but Michigan appealed. Eventually, their case was consolidated with others and made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June, made an historic ruling - same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. And yesterday, that same federal judge, Bernard Friedman, performed the ceremony.


JUDGE BERNARD FRIEDMAN: Every one of us owes you a big debt of gratitude. And I thank you.


SAMILTON: DeBoer and Rowse are heroes to people who support gay civil rights. So their small and humble wedding turned out to be much more lavish, with the wedding planner, the bridal shop, the jeweler, the DJ all offering their services for free.


FRIEDMAN: By the power vested in me, by the state constitution and the United States Constitution, I hereby pronounce you lawfully married spouses.


FRIEDMAN: Mazel tov.

SAMILTON: After the vows and the hugging and the photographs, the couple's attorney, Dana Nessel, said the ceremony was no different really from others she has attended.

DANA NESSEL: I really think that we're going to look back at this time in history, and I think that people will be perplexed as to why this was such a big deal in the first place. And I think that same-sex marriage won't be same-sex marriage anymore. It will just be marriage.

SAMILTON: After a family honeymoon in Florida, the couple plans to return to what they call normal - working alternate midnight nursing shifts, getting the kids bathed and fed and dressed and off to school; everything they've been doing all along for their family with one difference now - they have wedding rings on their fingers. For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.
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