Legislators learn about LGBT issues at Triangle Lunch

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-16T07:43:32-04:00 October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

By Dawn Wolfe

LANSING – On March 1, approximately 50 people from 40 legislative offices, including several legislators, attended the OUT of the Box Lunch legislative briefing sponsored by Triangle Foundation.
During the two hour event legislators and staff members heard from TransGender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall, hate crime survivor Alex Gjorovski, Triangle’s director of policy Sean Kosofsky, and representatives from the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality and Michigan Equality.
At least one state representative who attended, Democrat Paul Condino from Southfield, came away impressed.
“I think it’s very important because it brought to light the fact that every issue we see in the legislature has an effect on all of society, including gays and lesbians,” Condino said. “And there were some [speakers] that made [it] very clear to me that some issues affect gays and lesbians differently than other members of society.”
Condino said that the event strengthened his commitment to protect all human rights – so much so that he intends to co-sponsor a pending bill that would allow second-parent adoptions in Michigan. Allowing second-parent adoptions would provide necessary protection to the children of gay and lesbian parents and others in alternative family structures.
Condino said, “I’ll be a very proud sponsor of that bill,” when the drafting process is complete.
“We have to get past labels, and we have to get into protecting our most vulnerable,” Condino added. “If we can protect [children] through second parent adoptions we ought to.”
Condino also stated that he has confidence in the competence of gay and lesbian parents. “As a defense attorney I never had a charge of abuse of a child where a gay or lesbian couple was being charged with the abuse,” he said.
Condino pledged to work with Republican legislators to make second parent adoption a reality. Citing the fact that Republican Representative Leon Drolet was also present at the Triangle event, Condino said, “He has a view that we ought to protect all human rights, so I’m going to see if he’s willing to help me with this legislation.”
Representative Drolet said he’s open to that idea, but stressed that he would need to see the specific bill before signing on as a sponsor.
“The most important thing in dealing with issues like that is doing things in the best interest of the children,” Drolet said. “We should never do anything for a political purpose – the gain has to be for the child. The officials making the decision need to have the flexibility to do what is in the best interest of that child.”
According to Kosofsky, Drolet and Condino were joined by fellow legislators including Chris Kolb, Gilda Jacobs, Gabe Leland, and Alexander Lipsey .
“Legislative briefings are very significant tools to build relationships with staff and freshman lawmakers,” said Kosofsky. “[They] also enhance our community’s presence as a resource to policy makers. Lawmakers now, on any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issue, are going to have Triangle front and center on their Rolodex. They have clear go-to people in our community from day one.”
Crandall was also enthused about the event’s success.
“I thought it went very, very positively,” she said. “I think that it was one of the first [of this] type of event that included a transgender viewpoint.”
Crandall said she received positive input from her audience as well. “People who attended said they get invited to a lot of lunches like that, but that one was, by far, the most useful and well done,” she said.
Kosofsky said that Triangle plans to hold at least one such briefing at the beginning of every legislative session, and will hold more when necessary to address upcoming legislation of importance to the LGBT community. The idea for the forums came from the Human Rights Campaign, which produces a similar event for U.S. Congresspersons.

Get involved!

Contact state Representative Condino to thank him for his support of second parent adoption in Michigan. You can also contact Representative Leon Drolet and urge him to become a co-sponsor of the bill when it’s ready for introduction.
Michigan House of Representatives
The Honorable Paul Condino
N0797 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
517-373-1788 or email paulcondino@house.mi.gov
Michigan House of Representatives
The Honorable Leon Drolet
N0797 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
517-373-0820 or email ldrolet@house.mi.gov

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.