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Wedding nears for Mich. couple in gay marriage case

 

Wedding nears for Mich. couple in gay marriage case

It has been a remarkable journey for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the Hazel Parknurses who were at the forefront of the battle for marriage equality.

And in just days, the couple will wed, closing the chapter on their historic fight for the right to marry and legally adopt each other’s children.

But as that chapter of their life ends, the nurses are eager to begin the next as a united family. They have four children and are in the process of adopting a fifth.

“We’re excited,” DeBoer told the Free Press. “We’re looking forward to it. We had a very short time of planning but in all that craziness, in the planning, we’re just looking forward to the day that we’re legally married and can start the second-parent adoption process. We went down to the county clerk’s office and got our license, and it was at that point, that it was real, that we were going to get married.”

DFP April Jayne wedd (2)

Planning a wedding can be stressful for any couple but doing it in barely a two-month time span was slightly overwhelming for the couple.

Luckily for DeBoer and Rowse, they haven’t had to do it alone.

Several businesses, community leaders and even a federal judge have stepped up to help make the couple’s day one to remember. The pair will wed Saturday in Southfield. Federal judge Bernard Friedman, who overturned Michigan’s gay marriage ban, will perform the ceremony.

“The people that did step up and say, ‘Hey, we want to help,’ it just makes this even more special because they’re are so many people who are behind us,” said DeBoer. “There are people behind the scenes. ... I don’t even know everybody.”

In total, nearly $60,000 worth of services and items have been donated, according to the LGBT publication Between the Lines Publisher Jan Stevenson. Stevenson helped connect the couple with companies that offered to provide their services free of charge.

It came together after DeBoer called Stevenson to see whether she knew of any companies that could make invitations. Stevenson told her she did, but asked if the couple had yet secured any other vendors for the wedding. When DeBoer said no, that’s when Stevenson picked up the phone and began to make calls.

Every year, Between the Lines organizes the LGBT Wedding Expo, where dozens of vendors and companies showcase their services.

“I got online and started going down the list and started calling vendors,” Stevenson said. “Everyone said, ‘No problem. I’ll donate.’ Really, within a day or two of calling, everything got donated. I was so excited for them that everybody just stepped up willingly. It was like the community was saying that they’ve done so much for us, this is something we can do for them.”

The Birmingham-based florist Blossoms is one of at least 15 companies that have contributed. Co-owners Norman Silk and Dale Morgan were glad to pitch in.

“We don’t know the girls personally,” Silk said. “We were kind of really on the sidelines of watching all the legal battles they went through, all the hurdles they went through and felt like even though we didn’t know them, we felt they were speaking on behalf of our community. They had courage to challenge the law. We felt this was really our way to show support in all of the challenges. ... We’re so proud of them.”

Morgan met with DeBoer and discussed the couple’s red-and-white color scheme. Silk said Blossoms will be providing all of the floral decor, including the bouquet and centerpieces.

Carrie Fisher, owner of the Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe in Midland, said she reached out to the couple and thanked them for advancing equality for Michigan.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We’re really honored to have been chosen.”

Fisher will be baking an assortment of desserts including cookies, cake truffles and peanut butter bars, along with the wedding cake.

“It is a special cake that we designed for Pride Month four years ago,” she said. “It’s become a very popular cake for us, and when we showed them, it resonated for them. It’s modern and colorful. It’s really appropriate for any wedding.”

Gowns are being provided by B. Ella Bridal in Plymouth; the Miners Den Jewelers in Royal Oak donated rings.

DeBoer said she’s looking forward to the wedding, and about 225 people are expected to attend. Most of all, DeBoer said, she’s ready to live the next chapter of her life with her growing family.

“We’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends who have supported us the whole time, and we’re looking forward to watching the kids’ faces and hoping that they behave as they walk down the aisle,” she said, laughing. “We’re just so happy that things have turned out the way they have. It’s just the beginning of our new reality.”

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