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Alumna to speak about marriage equality case Nov. 16 at Wayne Law


The principal lawyer in the Michigan case that was part of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision holding unconstitutional the ban against same-sex marriage will speak Monday, Nov. 16, at Wayne State University Law School.

Dana Nessel, Wayne Law Class of 1994, will discuss the arguments, strategy and outcome of DeBoer v. Snyder.

The free event will be from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at the law school, 471 W. Palmer St. Lunch will be provided. Parking is available for $7 (credit or debit cards only) in Parking Structure No. 1 across West Palmer Street from Wayne Law.

This event also will honor the Wayne Law Team, a group of students that researched issues for the DeBoer litigation team. The students and recent alumni to be recognized are:
Wayne Law Class of 2015 — Kathleen Garbacz, Melissa Kliemann, Steven Knox, Pamela Wall and Patricia Woodruff.

Third-year students — Linda Cleary, Alex Edelen, Tiffany Holland, Kelly Hwa, Alexandra Kavieff, Jessica Mills, Rachel Myung, Sean Riddell, Jim Sechelski, Haba Yono and Ashley Zacharski.

Second-Year students — Rachael Dubini, Emily Fields, Leslie Ledbetter, Michelle Lenning, Megan Mockeridge, Elaina Semos and Eryka Symington.

Nessel — with co-counsel Wayne Law Adjunct Professor Kenneth Mogill, Wayne Law Distinguished Professor Robert Sedler and attorney Carole Stanyar — originally filed the suit in federal district court on behalf of lesbian couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park, challenging Michigan's ban on adoption by same-sex couples. The suit was amended to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. DeBoer and Rowse sought the right to marry legally so they could have joint custody of their adopted children.

The Michigan case began in 2011, when Nessel and Stanyar consulted Sedler about the case because of a 2004 essay (50 Wayne Law Review 835) he wrote, "The Constitution Should Protect the Right to Same-Sex Marriage."

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled for Nessel's clients in March 2014, the case was appealed and then made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was part of the history-making decision Friday, June 26, in Obergefell v. Hodges that changed the law in Michigan and every other state in the nation, giving same-sex couples the same right to legally wed as opposite-sex couples.

DeBoer and Rowse married Saturday, Aug. 22. On Thursday, Nov. 5, they formally jointly adopted all five of their children.

Nessel, a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor, practices with Nessel & Kessel Law in Detroit. She entered private practice in 2005 and since then has defended hundreds of criminal cases. She also takes on civil rights actions, family law matters and general tort litigation.

This event is presented by Sedler and these Wayne Law student organizations: National Lawyers Guild chapter and American Civil Liberties Union chapter, Keith Students for Civil Rights, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and The Journal of Law in Society.

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