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DETROIT FREE PRESS — Battle lines drawn over (lesbian) custody challenge

March 15, 2010
Dear AFA-Michigan supporter,

The well-placed “fear of a voter backlash” cited in the articles below is a direct result of AFA-Michigan supporters such as you taking action in the past. So let’s remind them, especially since articles such as these will no doubt generate calls and e-mails to the Legislature from homosexual activists demanding their “right” to intentionally deny children either a mother or a father.

Please call your state representative today and tell him that this current court case is proof of why House Bill 4131 should be defeated, to stop more innocent children from being used as pawns in court battles to win marriage and adoption “rights” for homosexual relationships.

Click here to find your state representative: http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp

Or call House Speaker Andy Dillon’s office — 517-373-0857 — and ask to be connected to your state representative.

Thanks as always for your support!

Gary Glenn, President
AFA-Michigan

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“The only people who may adopt in Michigan are married couples and single individuals, either gay or straight. …That in effect bars gay couples from adopting because of Proposal 2, the constitutional amendment Michigan voters approved in 2004. It limits marriage to ‘the union of one man and one woman.’ …A legislative effort to allow adoption by a partner in an unmarried relationship is stalled. House Bill 4131, the so-called second-parent adoption measure, is stuck on the floor of the state House, just like its predecessor two years ago. The chief sponsor, Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-South Lyon, says she can’t get enough votes because some supporters are fearful of a voter backlash from allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt.”

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DETROIT FREE PRESS
Detroit, Michigan
March 8, 2010

Battle lines drawn over custody challenge
March 22 hearing set for long-shot suit by Trenton woman
by David Ashenfelter, Free Press Staff Writer

Renee Harmon says there were two turning points in her relationship with Tammy Davis.

The first happened in June 2008, when Davis said she was unhappy and wanted to end their 19-year relationship.

The second occurred last September when, Harmon said, Davis’ new partner slammed the door in her face and told her the children were no longer hers.

“For someone who has only known my children for a short time to tell me that they’re not mine made me angry, and I lost it,” Harmon said recently. “I’m their mother. I have fed them, changed their diapers, nurtured them and loved them unconditionally since the day they were born.”

Harmon said she forced her way into the Grosse Ile home she used to share with Davis in a desperate attempt to see the children — a 10-year-old girl and twin 7-year-old boys. Harmon said they had decided that Davis should carry the children because she is younger.

Days after the blowup, Davis obtained a personal protection order that has prevented Harmon from having any contact with her or the children. Harmon said Davis has refused to have the order amended so Harmon can visit the children.

Last month, Harmon sued for joint custody in Wayne County Circuit Court. The first hurdle for her lawyers will come March 22, when they try to persuade Judge Kathleen McCarthy that Harmon has legal standing to sue.

If they lose, which they said is very possible, they’re prepared to appeal all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court in an effort to secure joint custody rights for nonbiological partners in gay and straight unmarried relationships.

“To say these children are not as important as the children of married, heterosexual parents is the height of insensitivity,” said Dana Nessel, one of Harmon’s lawyers.

Though Davis wouldn’t comment, her lawyer, David Viar of Rochester, said: “It’s an extremely sensitive, private and personal matter. Ms. Davis requests that the public and the media respect her privacy and the privacy of her children.”

The case has created a stir in metro Detroit’s gay and lesbian community. Nessel and co-counsel Nicole Childers of Royal Oak said 275 people attended a legal fund-raiser for Harmon in January.

In 2007, more than 22,000 same-sex couples lived in Michigan and 18% of them were raising children, according to a study from the UCLA School of Law. An estimated 7,800 Michigan children were living in same-sex households then.

Under state law, the only people who can petition for custody are biological parents or the husband of the biological mother if the child was born during their marriage.

An adoptive parent — biological or nonbiological — also may petition for custody. But the only people who may adopt in Michigan are married couples and single individuals, either gay or straight.

Though state law doesn’t expressly prohibit adoptions by unwed couples, Michigan courts and judges require adoptive couples to be married.

That in effect bars gay couples from adopting because of Proposal 2, the constitutional amendment Michigan voters approved in 2004. It limits marriage to “the union of one man and one woman.” The state Supreme Court has interpreted it to also ban civil unions for gay couples.

A legislative effort to allow adoption by a partner in an unmarried relationship is stalled. House Bill 4131, the so-called second-parent adoption measure, is stuck on the floor of the state House, just like its predecessor two years ago.

The chief sponsor, Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-South Lyon, says she can’t get enough votes because some supporters are fearful of a voter backlash from allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt.

Supporters, including the Michigan Department of Human Services, the Michigan Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers, say the bill would protect the children of unmarried couples by enabling them to receive insurance, pension and Social Security benefits from either parent, should one of them die or become disabled. And it would protect their right to continue their relationship and receive financial support from both parents after a breakup.

The Michigan Family Forum opposes the bill, saying it would undermine the sanctity of marriage. The Michigan Catholic Conference opposes the bill because it doesn’t want the state to dictate how faith-based groups handle adoption services.

Though most states allow single gays and lesbians to adopt, only 16 allow adoptions by same-sex couples. Michigan is among six states that prohibit both same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples from jointly adopting.

ACLU lawyer Jay Kaplan said Michigan’s situation is tragic.

“I’ve seen parents who have been raising children for many years, but because the biological parent holds all of the legal cards, the kids are taken away and they’re never allowed to see them again,” Kaplan said.

“Our courts and our current laws are operating out of a different century,” he added. “We are not taking into account the families that exist in Michigan, and by doing that, we’re doing a great disservice and harm to children.”

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100308/NEWS06/3080449/1001/News/Battle-lines-drawn-over-custody-challenge&template=fullarticle

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“The Detroit Free Press reports a bill sponsored by Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith — a Democratic candidate for governor — that would allow adoption by an unwed partner is stalled on the House floor, as her peers appear unwilling to vote on an issue that could upset their conservative constituents. After all, Michigan voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman,’ essentially banning marriage — and the legal rights that come with it — for gay couples.”

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MLIVE.COM
Detroit, Michigan
March 8, 2010

Same-sex custody battle: Should Michigan
extend parental rights to gay partners?

by Jonathan Oosting

Renee Harmon on Fox News

Renee Harmon and Tammy Davis lived together for 19 years and raised three children in Metro Detroit.

But following the couple’s bitter breakup, Harmon has not seen the kids in more than six months and has no custody rights: Her partner delivered the children after artificial insemination and Michigan does not allow gay marriage or second-parent adoption.

“I love them more than anything in the world,” Harmon told Fox 2. “And then for someone to tell me they’re not my kids? You know, how dare she.”

Harmon filed a lawsuit last month in Wayne Circuit Court seeking joint custody of the children, and a judge will hear arguments later this month.

While her case is considered a long shot, Harmon says she plans on taking the battle to the Michigan Supreme Court if necessary.

Harmon told Fox 2 she last saw the children — twin 7-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl — on the first day of school in 2009 at the Grosse Ile home the couple used to share, where she said Davis’ new partner slammed the door on her face and refused visitation.

Upset but undeterred, Harmon forced her way inside the home to see her children. Davis responded by taking out a personal protection order, and Harmon has not seen the children since.

As Jessica Carreras of Pride Source wrote last month, Harmon’s custody battle is one of several to pop up around the nation as states deal with a “lack of clear legislation on matters of marriage, adoption and what it means to be a ‘parent.'”

The Detroit Free Press reports a bill sponsored by Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith — a Democratic candidate for governor — that would allow adoption by an unwed partner is stalled on the House floor, as her peers appear unwilling to vote on an issue that could upset their conservative constituents.

After all, Michigan voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman,” essentially banning marriage — and the legal rights that come with it — for gay couples.

But Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells the newspaper situations like Harmon’s are tragic for both parents and children.

“We are not taking into account the families that exist in Michigan, and by doing that, we’re doing a great disservice and harm to children.”

What’s your take: Does Harmon deserve custody rights? Would you support legislation that would allow an unwed individual to adopt the biological child of their domestic partner?

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2010/03/same-sex_custody_battle_should.html
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