Supporters of a bill to expand adoption rights to unmarried couples has died in the state House, reports Penny Gardner, director of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, a group pushing for a new law.
“It’s too bad we are always worrying about the next election rather than getting things done,” Gardner said about the status of H.B. 4259. “It’s not going to win in the Senate, and it seems likely the House won’t vote on it.”
Gardner said her group would use the upcoming elections to educate candidates about the issue, and she predicted that the bill will be introduced in the new session of the Legislature.
The bill would amend current Michigan adoption laws to allow two persons who are not married to adopt a child. Critics contend it’s a way to write special protection status into the law and allow gays and lesbians to adopt. Proponents say the bill would allow the courts to recognize family situations other than a husband-wife situation, and they cite as an example common-law relationships, as well as situations where a grandparent and a sibling are raising a child of another family member.
Under current Michigan law, a two-parent adoption is left to the individual family court judge to determine, leaving a widely ranging series of precedents throughout the state. The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last fall, but has been stalled by the Democratically-controlled House. Insiders say the bill is hung up by the Democratic caucus because members are worried about the political impact that voting in favor of the bill would have in elections in the fall.
Florida is the only state to specifically ban any gay person from adopting, while others like Nebraska and Utah have similar laws that make adoptions for gay couples difficult, or impossible. Six states have laws or policies prohibiting discrimination against gay people in the adoption process, including California and New York. Michigan’s current law bans same-sex couples from adopting, even if they are legally married elsewhere, but it does not prevent individual gay or lesbian people from adopting.
Gardner discussed the likely death of the bill on the same day the national news was buzzing with criticism of Sen. John McCain’s earlier public statement that gays ought not be allowed to adopt children. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was quoted by the New York Times condemning gay families.
Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.
McCain’s campaign spent Monday trying to spin out of the Senator’statement in the New York Times.
“John McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue,” Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “He was not endorsing any federal legislation.”
“It says he doesn’t care about children,” said Gardner of the Arizona senator. “He’s willing to let children age out or languish rather than expand the system.”
McCain is also opposed to gay marriage. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has said he does not support gay marriage either, but he has also said gays and lesbians should not face discrimination.
For more information, visit http://www.secondparentadoption.org.