Feeling left out of the hubbub of marriage equality that is taking over the news in such states as Maine, New Hampshire, New York and others?
Fret not. Here in Michigan – or, for that matter, any state – there is still much to be done. Phone calls to be made, protests to attend, causes to support, Facebook groups to join.
Currently, several local and national pieces of LGBT rights-focused legislation sit in limbo, waiting to be voted on. The second parent adoption bill and anti-bullying lobby bill have both been introduced in Michigan this year, and both stand poised to be voted on in this legislative session. The first is in the House of Representatives and the second in the Senate; the first would allow unwed couples to adopt or parent children with both people recognized as legal parents, while the second would protect those children, and all others, from bullying at their schools.
Both are tremendously important to pushing forward on LGBT rights in the state of Michigan, and both, though heavily supported, face strong anti-LGBT opposition.
On the national level, anti-bullying legislation, hate crimes legislation and a bill to allow people to sponsor their bi-national partners for citizenship have recently been introduced. All three need the community’s support.
On February 14, the Uniting American Families Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which would amend immigration laws to give same-sex bi-national couples the same sponsorship rights as straight couples. On April 29, the House of Representatives passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and now they measure is moving to the Senate. Lastly, on May 5, the Safe Schools Improvement Act was introduced in the House of Representatives, which would allocate funds from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to implement anti-bullying policies in all U.S. schools.
All three bills, if passed, would dramatically increase the rights, protections and stability of LGBT people, couples and families. And all three bills need our support to help them pass.
Just because a bill isn’t directly in your community, staring you in the face, doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in assuring its passage, and definitely doesn’t mean it won’t make a difference in your life. The aforementioned statewide and national pieces of legislation would mean huge strides forward for the LGBT community in Michigan, and across the U.S.
So much of our focus in the past month has fallen onto marriage equality, especially as the momentum for equal rights continues to build throughout 2009. With all the headlines about Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and other states that are inching (or bounding) toward marriage equality, it’s easy to pay attention only to that. And, it feels good.
But there are tougher pieces of legislation that need our help – and every bill that is passed into law means one more step toward full equality. Michigan is nowhere near marriage equality, but passing any legislation that would give us adoption rights, sponsorship rights, protection from discrimination, or a shield from bullying helps us to reach that ultimate goal.
Call your Senators and Representatives. Every voice counts, and every action taken helps.