Arts & Entertainment
Legislators Seek Roadblocks To Stop Gays From Adopting
By Crystal Proxmire
Originally printed 9/12/2013 (Issue 2137 - Between The Lines News)
Republicans in Lansing are preparing to discuss the possibility for legalizing discrimination against LGBT people who want to adopt children. If passed, House Bills 4927 and 4928 would give adoption agencies the ability to deny an adoption placement based on that agency's "moral or religious beliefs."
The "religious exemption" tactic has been tied to legislative attempts in the past, including laws about bullying, healthcare, contraception and counseling.
On Sept. 11 the House Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors is expected to hear the bills that would give adoption agencies a legal avenue to discriminate. The bills would also protect the ability for anti-gay agencies to continue receiving government funding.
"It's sad to think that with all of the major issues Michigan faces that our legislature is pushing for 'protections' that will further restrict adoption. If this bill goes further than just wasting our legislature's time; it has the potential to stop adoptive parents from seeking out agencies that choose not to discriminate. Unfortunately, I have heard of instances where parents were discouraged from adoption by agencies that were not interested in them for vague reasons. Since these potential parents are focused on having children there is little probability that the agency will be reported. Luckily, in Michigan, there are lots of great adoption agencies that support GLBT, single parent and interracial adoption," said Julia Music, founder of Ferndale Adoption Network.
Equality Michigan's Managing Director Emily Dievendorf remains vigilant in tracking when anti-LGBT bills are introduced and heard. The organization is urging people to get involved, with information on how to do so on their website http://www.action.equalitymi.org.
"A license to discriminate is destructive and unethical. With 14,000 children in Michigan's foster care system at any one time and at least 3,000 in our foster care system actively seeking a safe home to prosper in, our focus should be on cultivating stable environments to raise these children. We should not be turning away capable and willing families eager to love and support a child in need. The strength of one's convictions is not justification in and of itself for any action - and it is a despicable excuse for damaging another human being," said Dievendorf.
She added, "Representatives Kurtz and LaFontaine are, again, wasting our money on bills which do nothing to help the 14,000 children residing in foster care in Michigan. Anyone who stands between a child and the loving and capable family they so desperately need is not focusing on solutions, but instead adding to the problems of these young people. We can do better at caring for our most vulnerable, and we owe it to these children and to Michigan to spend more time trying."
Adoption in Michigan is already a complicated matter, as the state does not allow second parent adoption. This means that only a married man and woman are permitted to adopt a child together. Individuals, regardless of their relationship status or sexual orientation, are also permitted to adopt. But couples who are not legally married in Michigan cannot. There are thousands of cases across the state where an adopted child has two loving parents in the home, but only one of them has legal parental rights. The other is a stranger in the eyes of the state.
In at least 20 states children can be adopted by two parents, regardless of the parents' gender. Yet across the country there are still approximately two million children being raised by LGBT people who do not have legal parental rights.
Michigan could move toward allowing second parent adoption, with the most immediate hope being placed on a Hazel Park lesbian couple and their lawsuit. Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer have sued Oakland County and the State of Michigan to allow them to adopt each other's children. The judge in that case could rule as early as October, though there is expected to be a higher court appeal. If this case is successful, a religious exemption clause can still prevent same gender couples from jointly adopting.For more information go to http://action.equalitymi.org and http://www.facebook.com/groups/112375997645.
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