LANSING – With a state house bill introduced to allow second parent adoption in Michigan, LGBT families and allies were out in force last week at the state Capitol to send a message: LGBT families are here and we’re not going anywhere.
The event, held Tuesday, May 10, 2005 and sponsored by Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, Inc. and the Triangle Foundation, featured 30 people, including 9 children, going door to door to state legislators urging them to support a second parent adoption bill introduced by State Representative Paul Condino (D-Southfield).
Ryan LaLonde, 30, says he made the journey from his home in Detroit because he is intimately aware of what it means to grow up in a same-sex run household. At age 10, the Standish native’s mother and father were divorced. Soon after, his mother introduced him to her female partner.
He smiles when asked why he is at the capitol building to lobby. “I want people to know that LGBT families are here. For 20 years I had mom and dad and mom’s partner.”
LaLonde says the conservative small town was also curious about his mother and her partner. “They asked inappropriate questions all the time,” he says. “Things like have you seen them having sex? I am like, no, I’ve seen them kiss and hold hands, like mom and dad did. It was weird, as a teenager to think about my parents having sex, I mean come on!”
Beverly Davidson, a social worker from Ann Arbor and CARE president, said LaLonde’s story is exactly what state legislators need to hear. “There is a lot of press about gays, but not enough reality. We go to work, we raise our children, we recreate. Its important for them (legislators) to see us.”
Davidson says the face to face time with legislators serves a second purposes as well. “It is harder to say no to someone when you see the pain you cause. Our face to face conversations remove the stigmas.”
While this lobby is over, Davidson says people can still lobby their legislators – and they do not have to come to Lansing to do it. “You can make appointments with your legislator while they are in the district. You can write a letter. You can write to the editors of the local newspaper. You can talk to the organizations you are involved in. There’s a lot you can do from home.”
In the meantime, LaLonde is aware of the one important fact about growing up with his two mothers. “Mom and Dad got a divorce because she was not happy. But now, she is happy but she has less protections now than she did when she was in an unhappy marriage.”
Second parent adoption bill update
On Monday CARE reported that Rep. Condino is very committed to moving the second parent adoption legislation and will be introducing the bill once he secures enough sponsors to maximize its potential to move through the legislative process. CARE and Rep. Condino are also working with other organizations to garner their public support before it is introduced.
Current sponsors of the bill include: Marie Donigan (D-District 26),
Chris Kolb (D-District 53), Alma Wheeler-Smith (D-District 54), Steve Tobocman (D-District 12), Alexander Lipsey (D-District 60), Jim Plakas (D-District 16), Fred Miller (D-District 31), George Cushingberry, Jr. (D-District 8), Andy Meisner (D-District 27), Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-District 22), Gabe Leland (D-District 10), Steve Bieda (D-District 25) and Leon Drolet (R-District 33).
If your representative is not listed as a cosponsor of this bill, please contact him or her and ask for their support. You can find your legislator at http://www.michigan.gov.
CARE looking for speakers
CARE is looking for speakers to educate various organizations about second parent adoption and Rep. Condino’s upcoming bill supporting it. They are especially interested in speaking to civic organizations and faith communities such as churches, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and PTA’s are asking members of these groups to inquire with the group about a CARE speaker presenting on second parent adoption. For more information contact CARE’s Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator Katie Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also contact email@example.com.