by Cathy Markes
Bev Davidson cradled her smiling 2-year-old as she spoke about the crowd and the day’s activities last Sunday at Kensington Metro Park. Davidson is president of Coalition for Adoption Rights, the organization along with Affirmations Community Center, responsible for planning the gathering.
“She’s having a great time and we’re really pleased to be having this event again – just look at this crowd,” she said pointing to the toddlers on the inflated slides. “The Second Parent Adoption Bill is now out of committee, (Michigan House Judiciary Committee), and we’re hoping to get a floor vote soon.”
The Second Annual Family Palooza drew over 150 people. All were there to enjoy friends and family and to highlight the ongoing struggles they face to pass legislation for second parent adoption. Sponsors and advertisers for the gathering numbered nearly 30, and included local and national corporations and individual supporters.
Recently, The Peninsula Group, an all volunteer work group of close to 100 people from around the state that formed after the passage of the anti-gay constitutional amendment in 2004, issued a report funded by The Arcus Foundation and The Hope Fund. “Adoption rights” was one of the top five concerns of the “total sample” from this study which queried over 2000 individuals. In June the Advocate magazine asked readers if they “were hoping to have kids by a certain age.” Of the respondents interested in parenting – 27 percent hoped to have children by the time they turned 30 and 32 percent noted they wanted children as long as “I can have them before I die.”
Two Michigan state representatives attended the Family Palooza and both have been ardent supporters of the recent bill that cleared the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Paul Condino (D-35th Dist.) echoed Davidson’s concern about the bill’s passage and was a bit more optimistic about the pending outcome.
“The Second Parent Adoption Bill has been a real priority for me. Although we’ve spent an awful lot of time, actually, thousands of hours on tax legislation, now that’s done, and this is my top priority.”
“We believe there is now enough pressure on the Senate Majority Leader (Republican Sen. Michael Bishop) to get it on his floor for a vote. Families of all backgrounds and statistics support this, even more than tax legislation. Look, Gov. Granholm supports this and it’s just simple, nurturing parents are the best parents.”
State Rep. Rebekah Warren, (D-53rd Dist.), a member of the judiciary committee, was also pleased that they were able to get the bill successfully out of committee.
“We know that we have more work to do to get this bill passed. Know this though – there is a very motivated constituency from all across the state that wants this bill done. It’s clear that our kids deserve to have families that want them and will protect them.”
The afternoon began with Chris Gerlach of Affirmations welcoming a lively crowd of parents, children and friends to the event. He spoke to the group as they enjoyed a dedicated space of about four acres in the Possum’s Hollow area of the park.
“I’m having, like, the best day of my entire life!” claimed 5-year-old Sasha.
Along with all of the other children, she was enjoying the inflatable slide that stood 20-feet tall, the drumming tent, carnival games, an inflated bouncing tent shaped as an elephant and a chance to make a magic wand complete with trailing ribbons and glitter.
“As parents, we came with our son, to support this event and to show our appreciation for the efforts of the organizers. We took a cruise with Kelli and Rosie O’Donnell’s R-Family Tours and really enjoyed ourselves. “It’s always good to spend time with other families and kids,” said two gay men, 45 and 39 years old, with their seven year old son.
Joanne and Julie, from the St. Clair area, shared a blanket and explained, “We like our kids to experience and appreciate different cultures and families. We have such a good time.”
The entire day was filled with entertainment for adults and children including Jay Spiro of Mejishi Martial Arts, John Fitzgeralds’s drumming group, arts and scraps crafting and DJ Bethany Schultz. A special appearance by the animated singing trio, The Chenille Sisters, got the whole crowd on their feet.
“We think it’s a good turnout although there’s always room for more families and supporters. It’s so cool to see the kids having such a good time drumming and dancing together – what a great day,” said Maureen Jones. She and Joan Bennett are co-chairs of the event’s planning committee, which included Sascha Matish and Deanna Tocco.
One woman, an aunt, shared her feelings, “As elected members of the Michigan House and Senate begin voting on the Second Parent Adoption Bill, the citizens that they will affect are hoping that legislators understand that these are all just children who deserve a loving family.”