by Beverly Davidson
“Love is a relationship founded on the realization that we are all connected, that everyone matters, that every single person is precious. True love does not stop at feeling; it cannot stop at feeling. Love acts.” – Reverend Peter Morales, Unitarian Universalist Association President.
This was the opening theme of the church service I attended today, and it made me reflect on the way we approach our lives as parents, spouses, partners, neighbors, and even activists. When we protect our children from crossing the street when cars are coming, we act. When we help an elderly person open a door, we act. When we treat a sick patient as a nurse or doctor, we act. All of these are acts of love, acts of protection. Without these loving acts on a daily basis, our world could not survive.
It also made me reflect on the work of CARE (Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality) over the last several years. It seems like it has been a lifetime since the infamous decision to stop second parent adoptions. One might ask, “Are we any further now than we were then?” “Are we any closer to making our children safer?” The answer is a complicated version of “maybe.” We have gone from having no legislative supporters to having the second parent adoption bill pass two House committees in two separate legislative sessions – a great victory. However, it has remained stalled there as the Michigan Senate remains power locked by a conservative brand of legislators who not only do not want all children to be legally protected by their parents, but who are also unwilling to understand the crucial need for increasing revenue in our economically depressed state. We have most certainly educated uninformed legislators as well as the general public about the need for second parent adoptions, and have shown them that we all have a basic need and right “to love, and to act on that love.”
We have garnered support from many faith communities who have participated with us in our fight for equality; communties that before were philosophically supportive, but who have now put that philosophy into action. We have broadened our efforts into the non-LGBT human services area, where we have presented trainings on LGBT parenting and the effects discrimination has on our families. We have opened up discussions within the larger LGBT parenting community about what it means to be a family, what it means to be a parent, and that being a family can take many different forms.
But it also pains us to know that there are still those families within our LGBT community who have been torn apart and discriminated against because some individuals are continuing to use the very laws we are trying to change against each other. That is not love. That is hate.
So are we any better now than we were seven years ago? I think to answer that question we have to go back to the beginning quote – “True love does not stop at feeling….Love acts.” Ask yourself – have you acted?
From the perspective of the CARE board, I can unequivocally say that we are better. We have all put in countless time and effort to make this world a better place for our families. We have acted. I can say that there are many individuals who have volunteered, talked about the issue with family and friends, and have donated to this cause – they have acted. There are legislators who have taken risks and signed on to the legislation, held a press conference supporting this bill, and who have voted yes when it was easier to vote no. They have acted.
It may not be a reality in this legislative session that this bill gets a full House vote. Due to the budget problems with this state, our legislation will be on the bottom of the priority list. That is certainly disappointing and frustrating to all of us who have painstakingly waited for “our turn.” However, we cannot let these setbacks stop us from acting,from loving. We still need to teach others about who we are and about who our families are. The learning will never cease.
We at CARE are continuing to evaluate our priorities and strategies as we approach the election cycle in 2010. We are not stopping, and will move forward, however small the steps are. We will continue to act on your behalf, and on your children’s behalf. We hope that we will have supporters who can continue or who will start to act on a larger scale. And we hope that if acting large is not an option, taking small steps will be a beginning for you.
October 11, is National Coming Out Day. It is a time to celebrate our lives as LGBT people, and to teach others about who we are. We at CARE see it also as a day to celebrate everyone who has ever felt different, who has struggled to figure out just who they are in this world. A day to celebrate all families, and realize “that we are all connected, that everyone matters, that every single person is precious.”
Beverly Davidson, LMSW, CARE President