Equality Michigan Petition Hopes to Stop Proposed Discrimination in Adoption Laws

by Crystal A. Proxmire

On Dec. 4 the Michigan House Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors passed two bills out of committee, House Bills 5763 and 5764, which would allow adoption agencies the ability to deny an adoption placement based on that agency's moral or religious beliefs.

In Michigan there are 14,000 children in foster care at any time - 5,000 of them with parents whose rights have been terminated and are awaiting permanent homes. The bills add a barrier between those children and potential foster parents who would give them a loving home, just because those potential foster parents might be gay. Additionally, the bills protect public funding for agencies choosing to discriminate.

The committee heard testimony about the proposed bills, including a speech from a family that adopted a son and is in the process of adopting their second child.

Kent Love-Ramirez spoke about the love he and partner Diego Love-Ramirez have for their two year old son Lucas.

"By all accounts we were a committed, loving, stable family. Three years ago we began the process of adopting a child. We did our research and knew we were ideal candidates based on the state's criteria for determining eligibility of adoptive families. Our family was selected by Lucas' birth parents from among several prospective families. We have been attentive parents from the very beginning, attending pre-natal doctor's appointments and assisting in the delivery room when Lucas was born. Diego cut the umbilical cord. I was the first person to hold Lucas and a day later we took Lucas to his new home with the blessing of the State of Michigan and Lucas' biological parents. By all accounts our story is a perfect example of how children in need should find their way to loving families. Yet these bills threaten to allow bigotry and individual subjectivity to trump the state's criteria for evaluating a family's eligibility for placement," Love-Ramirez said.

"The bottom line is that the state has established specific criteria for determining the eligibility of prospective parents and for protecting the best interest of the child in its care continued Love-Ramirez. Agencies and individuals must not be allowed to both accept government funding to perform a service and at the same time arbitrarily discriminate based on factors that the state says should have no bearing on such matters. I find it deplorable that members of this committee are trying to make it more difficult for families like ours to offer loving homes to children in need."

Emily Dievendorf, director of policy for Equality Michigan, testified against the bills each time it came up for committee vote, alongside parents and advocates from partner organizations.

"The ongoing effort by extremists serving in the Michigan Legislature to turn Michigan into a state which values intolerance over compassion is alarming and must be stopped. Equality Michigan is pleased to have our national partner, Democracy for America, join us in the effort to stand up in opposition to these bills. We are committed to making sure the voice of people in Michigan are heard, that efforts to legalize discrimination will not be tolerated," she said. An online action to send emails to members of the committee which passed the bill resulted in over 10,000 emails being sent to elected officials. Now they are doing an online petition urging legislators to vote down the bills.

The petition can be found at: http://democracyforamerica.com/petitions/25-stop-extremist-legislators-in-michigan-from-denying-homes-to-kids.

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