One day we’ll just call it “marriage”
NOTE: Every day this week I will be posting about the fundraiser for the legal fund for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse who are challenging Michigan’s discriminatory marriage ban. Over half of the residents in our state oppose this law and it’s time for it to go away for good. Equally as important, it is a case that’s likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court where it may very well decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans across the country once and for all. It’s important that the case is done well at the state level so that it lays a solid foundation for consideration by higher courts. I hope you’ll join me in making a donation at MichiganMarriageChallenge.com today or by clicking the widget at the top right of the page. You can read my interview with Jayne and April HERE.
One of the things I learned in the course of interviewing Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer and during my conversations with their attorney Dana Nessel was that, in the middle of their challenge to Michigan’s adoption laws, LGBT people got yet another stick in the eye. Michigan’s adoption law prevents non-married couples from adopting together. Because of this and the fact that same-sex marriage is banned in Michigan, gay couples must adopt as individuals. The result is that, if something happens to one of the parents or there is a split up of the relationship, one of the parents may actually lose custody or other rights over their children. This is not a fear that married couples live under.
Shortly after Jayne and April filed their complaint against Michigan’s adoption law, one Michigan Republican, Senator John Pappageorge, introduced legislation to change the law in a somewhat different way. His bill, Senate Bill 1132 passed through the legislature during the flurry of activity during the Inflamed Duck session of 2012 and, on January 9th, 2013, became Public Act 614 of 2012 when Governor Snyder signed it into law.
From the Senate Fiscal Agency’s analysis, here’s what it does:
The bill would amend the Michigan Adoption Code to specify that the court could allow either of the following:
- A married person to adopt an adult, without his or her spouse joining in the adoption petition, if all of the interested parties consented.
- A married person to adopt without his or her spouse joining in the petition, if failure to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption were excused by the court for good cause shown or were in the best interest of the child.
Under the Code, if a married person wishes to adopt an adult or a child, with the intent of making the adoptee his or her heir, the person and his or her spouse must file a petition with the court. The bill would make an exception to this requirement.
At first, this sounds reasonable. You could make a solid argument that, if two people are going to legally adopt a child together, there should be some legal connection between them. But here’s what this bill does in a non-obvious way: it allows a married couple to adopt together legally but they don’t have to married to each other!
In other words, it removes the ban on same-sex couples adopting together for everyone except gay couples.
When I talked to attorney Dana Nessel, she described it as “just one more way to stick it to gay people in Michigan”.
“It’s like this,” she said. “If Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin came to live in Michigan and decided to adopt a child together, they could do that because they are married, just not to each other. They’d be a same-sex couple legally adopting a child together, even though they have no connection to one another. But, a gay couple in a committed, long-term relationship isn’t allowed that privilege.”
It is my understanding that this bill was a carve out for one specific constituent of Sen. Pappageorge who was looking to adopt the child of a former girlfriend after they both married other people. The effect is to stick the state’s legal thumb in the eye of gay couples looking to adopt just one more time.
Please consider making a donation to the legal fund to fight Michigan’s bigoted ban on same-sex marriage. It’s time for our state to join the other 17 states that have already done so. The side benefit is that it may help to overturn same-sex marriage bans in all of America once and for all. You can make a donation at MichiganMarriageChallenge.com or click the widget below.
[Graphic courtesy of Equality Michigan]