Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
LANSING Ñ About 50 adults, many with infants and toddlers in tow, gathered April 18 at the State Capitol to lobby members of the House Judiciary Committee to allow hearings on proposed adoption reforms. Those reforms would explicitly allow second parent adoption for unmarried couples Ñ including same-sex couples.
ÒIt is unclear in Michigan law if these adoptions are legal,Ó Sean Kosofsky director of policy for Triangle Foundation, said to the gathered group. “This bill will say that it is allowed, rather than leaving it up the discretion of each judge.Ó
Jay Kaplan of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said there are 17,000 children in foster care in Michigan alone and many are awaiting adoption opportunities. He walked participants through some of the arguments legislators in opposition to the bill might pose the lobbyists.
Some might argue, Kaplan said, that passing this legislation would violate the recent ban on same sex marriage Michigan added to its constitution a year ago. Kaplan said it was simply not true, as the adoptions are about the children, not about relationships.
Jane Bassett, a board member of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, said, ÒItÕs about creating relations with children, not adults.Ó
Kaplan also warned the citizen lobbyists that lawmakers might argue that children will do better in a traditional nuclear family type home. Kaplan pointed out that 38 studies show that children raised in same-sex households do as well as children raised in a traditional heterosexual nuclear family. He also pointed out that less than 30 percent of families in the country are the traditional nuclear family.
In addition to lobbying in favor of HB 3599, which would allow second parent adoption in the state, attendees were encouraged to tell the legislators they met with to vote no on two other bills, HB 5808 and 5809. Those bills would allow adoption agencies to deny adoptions to people based on the organizations moral and religious beliefs. Examples cited by Kaplan include allowing Christian adoption groups to deny adoptions to Moslem homes because they believe children are best raised in Christian and homes and vice versa.
Lynne Martinez, a former state representative and former director of the State Office of the ChildrenÕs Ombudsman, told the gathering that adoption had to be in the best interest of the children. ÒTo pretend changing the adoption code would change the state is wrong. Changing the code recognizes the reality of Michigan families, it recognizes that these changes are already happening.Ó
Martinez also noted that the opposition to the adoption code was strong. She told a story of when she was head of a state department created to represent the best interest of Michigan Children the group printed a report recommending the change in adoption code to allow second parent adoption. She says State Senator Alan Cropsey (R-Dewitt) ÒthrewÓ the report on the floor and made a statement like, ÒThe State of Michigan ought not print tripe like that.Ó
ÒWeÕre never going back into the shadows again,Ó Martinez told the group.
In an email report sent out to CARES supporters on April 20, CARES president Beverly Davidson says the lobby day was a great success, with State Representative Paul Condino, the author and sponsor of the second parent adoption bill, receiving a great deal of feed back. In addition, The Child Welfare League of America and the Evan P. Donaldson Adoption Institute — both national organizations Ñ have announced their support for the bill.
Supporters are not done, however and they know the pressure has to be kept up.
ÒI know I am preaching to the choir here,Ó said Martinez. ÒBut I also know the choir has to sing.Ó