BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
LANSING – When Bev Davidson looks in her baby’s eyes, she needs to know in her heart she’s done everything she can to protect her.
That’s one reason Davidson plans to come to Lansing to lobby the Michigan legislature this week.
The children of other LGBT parents are the other reasons.
“We are a children’s advocacy group, advocating for second parent adoptions,” said Davidson, who is president of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality. “We’re trying to achieve legal protections for children of unmarried couples.”
At 9 a.m., on April 18, Davidson, members of CARE and half a dozen other organizations and concerned individuals will be meeting at Room 428 in the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing for Family Lobby Day.
Attendees will visit with members of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, who are reviewing the proposed measure.
If the House Bill 5399 is approved by the legislature, Michigan would permit second parent adoptions.
“It would allow two unmarried persons to adopt a child jointly,” said Davidson. “It would also allow for an already existing legal parent to consent to his or her partner to become a parent jointly for that child.”
The LGBT community needs to come to Lansing to encourage members of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the bill and ultimately send it to the House floor for a vote, she said.
Davidson has seen positive changes since her group began its three-year effort to get a bill protecting gay families passed in Michigan.
“Part of that process is educational,” she said. “The reason we’re there is because of grassroots work. Legislators are paying attention. This is a profoundly important step.”
LGBT-friendly statutes won’t pass unless gay people start contacting lawmakers, she said.
“Our families need to be seen,” she said. “Legislators need to see families and children. They need to look in a child’s eyes and tell them they won’t be safe. That’s hard to do.”
Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky said it’s critical that lawmakers encounter LGBT people at the Capitol. He thinks there are strong arguments to be made on behalf of the second parent adoption bill.
“First of all, it’s sound policy. It will save the state money,” he said. “The more children are in good homes, the less taxpayers have to pay in foster care and other services for these children.”
Unmarried straight people have a stake in this bill, he said.
“They need the security of strong second parent adoption laws to protect their children,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The state saves money, children get safer homes and Michigan has a more secure base of families.”
The people who come to Family Lobby Day can also help legislators learn more about two other bills. The proposed legislation would permit child placing agencies to refuse to send a youngster to a home that violates the agency’s “religious or moral convictions or policies.”
“It’s a thinly veiled attempt to ban gay adoption,” said Kosofsky. “It says, ‘We want to restrict adoptions. We want to make adoption harder in Michigan.'”
Davidson said many gay moms and dads have to live with an underlying anxiety throughout their children’s lives.
“If something happens to me I need to know she won’t be taken away from her parent – my partner,” she said.
Living with the knowledge you can’t protect your child because of a law is hard, she said.
“If you don’t think Lobby Day is important, just look at your kid,” she said. “That’s why it’s important.”