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 at risk.Ã‚Â Glenn cited studies that assert that gay people are more likely than heterosexuals to be depressed or have suicidal tendencies.”
CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE
January 20, 2006
Unmarried adoption proposal sparks deep divisions
by Derek Wallbank
LANSING — Beverly Davidson 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 in Ann Arbor.
“Because if anything happened to me, my partner would have a difficult time providing these benefits to her without an adoption.”
You see, Beverly Davidson’s partner is a woman and therefore they can’t get married in Michigan.
And under Michigan law, unmarried couples can’t jointly adopt children.
That restriction has led some terminally ill Michigan mothers with live-in partners to give up their parental rights so their partners could adopt their children, said Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield.
Condino has introduced a bill that would allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt, enabling people like Davidson to let their partners adopt their children without surrendering their own rights.
But many representatives 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, currently before the House Judiciary Committee, hasn’t been scheduled for consideration.
Rep. Tim Moore, R-Farwell, said that he looks forward to the bill going through the committee process.
Asked if a gay couple could adequately raise a child, Moore said, “I don’t know. I think there are some moral issues, but that’s not to say that they couldn’t raise that child together.”
Rep. Bill Caul said he plans to wait until the committee has debated it before taking a position on the legislation, but noted that he has concerns about the scope of the bill.
“Marriage is between one man and one woman and that is the basis for the family unit,” said Caul, R-Mount Pleasant, adding that he will use that philosophy as the foundation for any decision he makes.
But good families can look many different ways, according to 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,” said Bilodeau.
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 at risk.
Glenn 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.
However, 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.
For example, Patricia Lesko has two children; one by birth and one that her female partner bore. Lesko said the Legislature should look beyond Proposal 2 and do what is right for families.
“In 1950, there were laws that said a black person could not be married to someone that was not of his or her own race,” said Lesko, who lives in Ann Arbor. “Just because the voters of a state say that the law exists doesn’t mean the law is just and doesn’t mean that history will see the law as just.”
Rep. Bill Van Regenmorter, R-Georgetown Township, the chair of the 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.
Van Regenmorter said he has “great respect” for Condino, but also said, “If there’s anything that deals with traditional family values, we have an obligation to be very careful.”
In addition to Condino, sponsors include Reps. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing; Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak; Matt Gillard, D-Alpena; Lamar Lemmons III, D-Detroit; and Leon Drolet, R-Macomb Township.
Ultimately, the prospects for approval may hinge on whether legislators decide that people like Davidson and Lesko 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.”