Monday, February 06, 2006

Michiganders Fighting for Adoption Rights

(Link) A bill to allow unmarried couples -- including same-sex couples -- to adopt is facing an uphill battle in Michigan. According to one backer, the current restrictions have led some terminally ill mothers with live-in partners to give up their parental rights so their partners could adopt their children.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Derek Wallbank
Capital News Service

Beverly Davidson of Ann Arbor considers herself a good mother. She works to put food on the table, pay bills and provide health coverage for her infant daughter.

"I hope and pray every day that I remain healthy and can continue my employment so that I can provide insurance and other benefits to my daughter," said Davidson, who lives with a female partner "because if anything happened to me, my partner would have a difficult time providing these benefits to her without an adoption."

Davidson hopes that lawmakers will pass a law to allow unmarried couples - including gays and lesbians - to jointly adopt or, in her case, allow her partner to adopt and gain legal status as a parent.

Under Michigan law, unmarried couples cannot jointly adopt children.

That restriction has led some terminally ill mothers with live-in partners to give up their parental rights so their partners could adopt their children, said Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield.

But the bill that Condino sponsored faces an uphill battle as many lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature balk at the idea of allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

"We should make every effort to provide a stable family environment for those children, and I believe this legislation weakens that effort," said Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

The bill was introduced in the House in November. So far, no hearings have been scheduled.

Good families can look many different ways, said Brent Bilodeau, director of the Office of Lesbian, Bi, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) Concerns at Michigan State University.

"What is most important is that a child is raised in a home with a loving environment," he said.

But Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, said putting children in households with people who engage in homosexual activities puts them in unhealthy environments.

He cited studies that assert that gay people are more likely than heterosexuals to be depressed or have suicidal tendencies.

Bilodeau countered that those traits are seen more often in young people, and that many gay adults have overcome such problems.

"I think there are lots of adults who are LBGT who are really fit to be parents," he said.

Gay rights advocates concede that with the November 2004 passage of Proposal 2, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, expanding adoption rights may be a tough sell politically.

Rep. Bill Van Regenmorter, R-Georgetown Township, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the panel has close to 300 pieces of legislation before it, and that Condino's bill isn't scheduled for a hearing.

"If there's anything that deals with traditional family values, we have an obligation to be very careful," he said.

Ultimately, the prospects for approval may hinge on whether legislators decide that people like Davidson can provide a good home environment for children.

"There are so many things that go into being a good parent," said Davidson. "And sexual orientation is not one of them."