One of the Supreme Court's biggest cases this year has a surprising focus on children

Screen Shot 2015 04 22 at 2.48.05 PMPaul Campion and Randy JohnsonPaul Campion (right) and Randy Johnson with their newborn twins, who are now 20 and in college.

The Supreme Court is ramping up to hear arguments that will determine whether states can ban same-sex marriage, which along with a fight over Obamacare is one of the biggest cases this term.

Education Week points out that children will likely play a large role in the case, which takes aim at the refusal of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee to grant marriage licenses and recognition to same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples with children argue this refusal to grant same-sex marriages has detrimental implications for their families.

In many states that don’t allow gay marriage, same-sex couples can’t jointly file for adoption. This means that only one parent has legal guardianship of the children and poses a host of concerns for families.

Medical issues are one such instance where same-sex couples have few rights in states that don’t acknowledge gay marriage. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse have four adopted children and say they have a marriage, though Michigan does not acknowledge it. “We have a marriage. We just don’t have a piece of paper that legally binds us to each other,” DeBoer told NPR.

Since Michigan doesn’t allow gay marriage, DeBoer adopted two of their children, and Rowse the other two. This poses frightening consequences for the couple if one of them died. With no legal status as parents for two of their kids, their rights would be left to the discretion of a judge. “A judge could award that child to someone else” making the surviving parent “a legal stranger to the child that they have helped raise since birth,” Rowse said.

That fact pushed them to challenge the marriage law in their state.

State marriage laws that don’t recognise same-sex marriage can also hurt their options at public schools.

Paul Campion and Randy Johnson have been together for 24 years and married in California, but their home state of Kentucky doesn’t recognise their marriage. They have four children and say they very carefully vetted the schools to find the one that afforded them the most rights. “We remain vulnerable if they choose to discriminate against us,” Johnson said to EdWeek, referring to their rights at schools as a same-sex couple who have adopted kids.

Their search for the right school led them to both public and parochial schools. They found the most comfort and security in the Catholic schools their kids attended. “In a lot of ways, the Catholic schools are more prepared and proactive in embracing diversity,” Campion said.

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