Michigan…. Oh, my sweet home state. What has happened to you? Where is the heart that I remember loving as a child growing up on your beautiful shoreline? Where is your kindness and your sensibility? What has become of you? Who is this Rick Snyder you’ve chosen to lead you? Where are the competent and compassionate representatives who care about the little guy? You were once a progressive place, but now you just seem so…. I don’t know. Scared? I know there is certainly fear that comes with so much unemployment and uncertainty, and it’s hard to worry about the rights of the vulnerable when you’re worried about getting food on the table, but PLEASE! Your very humanity should be so offended by what is going on right now.
Above, you see a picture of a family. It probably looks different than your family or my family looks, but it is still a family. April DeBoer (left) and Jayne Rowse (right) are part of the lawsuit that the Supreme Court is deciding right now. Michigan is one of three states in the nation (along with Mississippi and Louisiana–Yikes!) that prohibit joint adoptions by unmarried couples–Effectively making it illegal for same-sex couples who have adopted children to protect those kids if something should happen to one of their parents. April has adopted the two girls, and Jayne has adopted the two boys. April and Jayne are both pediatric emergency room nurses, and all the kids they have adopted have special needs. They love their kids as much as any other parents love their kids, but if one of these two amazing women dies, the other one has no legal claim to her partner’s legally adopted children. As gross as this glaring injustice is, I believe that part of the problem will be sorted out soon (via the SCOTUS). At least I hope it will….
But just a couple days ago, Republican governor Rick Snyder signed into law three new anti-gay bills making it legal for adoption agencies to turn away LGBT men and women who want to adopt…. if those agencies are doing it because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” So this means that good people like April and Jayne, whose giant hearts compel them to love and care for kids with special needs–some of whom weren’t even expected to live–can be legally refused, simply because those same hearts also compel them to love and care for each other. This is at the level of some kind of comic book villain sort of injustice.
Now, I get it…. Some of you are thinking “Religious Freedom! We can’t be forcing pastors into performing gay marriages if they don’t believe it’s right, just like we can’t be forcing adoption agencies that are run by churches (some of them very anti-gay in their theology) to put their babies in homes of gays and Muslims and other “hell-bound” parents–No matter HOW loving they are.” And this may surprise you, but I agree. We SHOULDN’T be forcing people to run their church-sponsored adoption agencies a way that conflicts with their deeply-held beliefs…. That is, of course, unless those adoption agencies are accepting state and federal funding to run those agencies! Which they are. Right now, those adoption agencies are raking in about $10 million annually in state and federal funding. And what THAT means is that we CAN tell them who they can and can’t discriminate against. If the First Congregational Church of Skinheads wants to start an adoption agency that only places kids in loving Nazi families, they have the freedom to run that church-agency the way that they see fit…. But not if they’re getting state and federal funding.
That is one of the most messed up things I have ever heard, people. In Michigan, there are about 14,000 kids in foster care on any given day. And because of the actions of YOUR elected representatives and YOUR governor, those kids are going to have a harder time finding loving families…. Like the family Jacob, Nolan, Ryanne, and Rylee found in April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. This legislation has somehow managed to be both unChristian AND unAmerican. If you call yourself a Christian and support this legislation, you are thoroughly confused as to what Jesus meant when he said, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” These kids in the foster care system are “The Least of These” And if you’re keeping these kids from loving families just because same-sex couples are “icky” to you, I’ve got news for you: You are doing that to Jesus–The same Jesus all the religious people got so angry about when he hung out with the “icky” people. COME TO YOUR SENSES, MICHIGAN!!!
So here’s the deal. Some of you might be hearing about this for the first time, and some of you might have heard about this and thought “What can I do about it?” If you’re looking for ways to help, or work together with other folks to be a more effective voice for change, one agency doing some good things is Equality Michigan. Or, if you’re just pissed and you want to call and express your anger at this black eye on Michigan’s Soul, you can call governor Snyder’s office at (517) 373-3400, or (517) 335-7858 (for constituents), or you can find other ways to contact him HERE. You can also call your state representative and let them know you how utterly gross this law is, and that if they won’t work to change it, YOU will work to make sure they never get elected to any sort of office again. You can find your representative HERE. And you can share this post…. Even if you don’t live in Michigan.