By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
LANSING – LGBT activists and allies will work to protect the children of same-gender couples during the second annual Family Lobby Day in Lansing on Tuesday, May 10.
The timing of the event, two days after Mother’s Day, is no accident.
The Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality chose the day “because this is about parenting, about making sure children are safe and legally protected by their parents,” said CARE President Bev Davidson. “We wanted to tie it closely to that to have more awareness in terms of children’s’ rights and parenting rights.”
The issue is personal for Davidson, who is expecting to give birth in August, and who has already been harmed because of the lack of legal protections for unmarried parents and their children.
Davidson lost the right to see the son she parented with her former partner when the two lived in Ohio. “I haven’t seen him for seven years,” she said.
“Now that … my [current] partner and I are starting a family, I don’t want our child or her to have that experience,” Davidson added. “That’s why we have laws – to protect people, because when they’re in the midst of a trauma like divorce they make bad decisions. I wouldn’t want a child to go through what my son went through, losing a parent.” Davidson and her wife, Alixandra Matish, have been together for three years and were married last year in Canada – but that marriage doesn’t create a legal relationship between Matish and the child she and Davidson will have here in Michigan.
“My dream was to be able to have this bill passed before I had a baby, but at least the bill will be introduced before we have the baby, so that makes me happy,” Davidson said.
“And the fact of the matter is, it’s best for kids.”
Condino gathering sponsors for bill
This year, Family Lobby Day volunteers will have specific legislation to lobby for. Representative Paul Condino, a Democrat from Southfield, has sponsored a bill that would protect children by allowing second parent adoption by unmarried couples. Condino is soliciting sponsors for the bill, which he plans to introduce later this month.
This development is especially pleasing to Davidson.
“I’m very proud of CARE’s work and the work of the coalitions we work with … that we’ve been able to get a bill introduced in only three years, especially with the political climate we’ve been in for the past three years,” she said.
Be a part of Family Lobby Day. Family Lobby day will take place from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Capitol Building in Lansing. Participants will have the chance to talk to their representatives about the importance of supporting the second parent adoption bill, as well as the proposed amendment to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in housing, jobs, and services. Both are pro-family bills that would, if passed, have a positive effect on the children of same-sex couples. Participants will begin their day in Room 424 of the Capitol Building in Lansing. For more information call 734-930-9200, email [email protected] or visit CARE’s website at http://www.secondparentadoption.org.
Speak at a hearing
CARE wants to prepare a contact list of parents and children who will be directly affected by the passage or denial of the second parent adoption bill.Ê They are looking for parents, children and teens who would be willing to go public with their stories about how this bill will affect their lives to share those stories before legislative committees during hearings on the bill when it is introducted.
Please contact Bev Davidson at [email protected] if you and your family are interested in being called to testify at a legislative or public hearing to tell your story.Ê
Contact your legislator
The following state Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of Condino’s second parent adoption bill. If your representative is on this list, call or write to thank her or him. If not, call your representative and ask them to support this important pro-family legislation.
Bill co-sponsors as of April 30:
Marie Donigan (D)
Chris Kolb (D)
Alma Wheeler-Smith (D)
Steve Tobocman (D)
Alexander Lipsey (D)
Jim Plakas (D)
Fred Miller (D)
George Cushingberry (D)
Andy Meisner (D)
Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D)
Gabe Leland (D)
To find your state Representative call the Michigan State House Clerk’s office at 517-373-0135 or visit http://house.michigan.gov/find”a”rep.asp.