ACLU of Michigan Applauds Rosie O'Donnell's Stand on Gay Adoption

March 13, 2002

DETROIT — On tomorrow night’s ABC’s Prime Time, Rosie O’Donnell will be disclosing her own sexual orientation and how she and her family have been affected by Florida’s law that prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting children.

Unlike Florida, Michigan has no law excluding individual gays and lesbians from adopting children, but there is also no law that allows a same-sex couple to adopt a child together. The ACLU of Michigan is working to change this.

Jay Kaplan, ACLU Staff Attorney for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender Project, has expressed concern and regret that Michigan law continues to ignore the existence of gay and lesbian families, whose numbers have increased by more than 300 percent in the last decade.  

“Michigan law is contrary to the recent recommendations by the American Association of Pediatrics, endorsing adoption rights for gay and lesbian parents,” said Kaplan. “There is no empirical data to support any risk to children as result of growing up in a family with one or more gay parents.   Adoption rights provide children of gay and lesbian parents with numerous legal protections, including the right to inheritance, health care coverage, and social security benefits.”

The ACLU of Michigan is looking at the possibility of challenging the Michigan courts failure to recognize gay and lesbian families with regards to child custody and parenting time in cases where a parents’ relationship ends.    The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the concept of “equitable” or “psychological” parent should be limited only to those situations involving legalized marriage.  As Michigan law prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, gay and lesbian co-parents are deprived of the ability to petition for child custody and parenting time, regardless of their history and involvement in raising, caring for, and nurturing their children.

“We believe that it is time for both Michigan’s legislature and courts to recognize that there is no such thing as the typical family anymore,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director.    “Children everywhere need loving and supportive homes, something that many gay and lesbian families are able to provide.    Sexual orientation should never be a litmus test when it comes to the best interests of children.”

The national ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s ban in federal court based on the fundamental right of all American citizen’s, regardless of their sexual orientation to have and raise children.  There is no child welfare basis whatsoever to deny children awaiting adoption the opportunity to be adopted by gays and lesbians who are able and willing to provide them with loving, supportive families.  3,400 children remain in limbo in Florida’s foster care system, because there are not enough eligible families to adopt them.

The LGBT Project of the National ACLU has just released the publication Too High A Price:  The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting.  The book will be online Thursday at a special web site http://www.lethimstay.com/, named for a 10-year-old boy in the ACLU’s case against Florida’s gay adoption ban. 

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