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Antigay adoption opinion angers Michigan activists

Antigay adoption opinion angers Michigan activists

An attorney general's legal opinion that same-sex couples married in Massachusetts cannot adopt a child together in Michigan has angered gay rights advocates and others who said Wednesday it disregards children's best interests. The opinion, written by Attorney General Mike Cox, said a same-sex marriage performed in another state is invalid in Michigan and therefore precludes that couple from obtaining a joint adoption in Michigan. "It's an antifamily opinion," said Beverly Davidson, president of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, which supports adoptions by same-sex couples. "There are a number of children in our state who need permanent homes. Limiting who can adopt them is a disservice." While the Republican attorney general's opinion specifically addressed whether the state can recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts and whether those couples can adopt children in Michigan, critics worry that it further cripples gays' rights and their ability to adopt. The state's adoption law is ambiguous, and appellate courts have not definitively ruled on the issue, they say. Cox spokesman Randall Thompson disagreed. Cox wrote in his opinion that, while same-sex couples cannot adopt a child in the state, one partner may do so as a single person. "In terms of the public policy of the state of Michigan, the legislature has been very clear," Thompson said. Critics say only a joint adoption gives both parents equal rights to the child and allows children adopted by gay couples the same financial security and legal rights guaranteed to children of married couples. Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said if one partner in same-sex couple adopts a child, the other partner would have no legal obligation to the adopted child. "If only one parent can be legally recognized, how is that helping the child?" he said. State Republican senator Bill Hardiman, who requested the opinion, said marriage is an institution between one man and one woman and only married couples should be able to adopt. "It's not that I'm against gays, but I do support marriage as it has been defined in this country," Hardiman said. Judges are divided over the issue. Washtenaw County judges once allowed gay and lesbian couples to jointly adopt children. But two years ago Chief Judge Archie Brown banned those adoptions in the courts under his control. Brown said at the time that such adoptions violated state law, which he said allows only individuals and married couples to adopt children.

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