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Adoption and the Michigan Constitution

Across the country, states are debating whether people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. Those decisions are inevitably emotional and controversial.

What about adoption? A lesbian couple in Oakland County is planning to challenge an amendment to Michigan’s constitution that makes the joint adoption of children unavailable to unmarried couples.

According to attorneys for the couple, they will amend their federal case to request joint custody. The portion of the constitution at issue is a voter-approved amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

The couple has three adopted children between them, two adopted by one woman and one child adopted by the other. The couple hopes to unite their family by adopting each other’s children, but this is not allowed under Michigan law since they aren’t married. The women have been together for 10 years.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has argued the case should be dismissed, claiming that the adoption matters are state issues, not federal. The U.S. District Judge hearing the federal case suggested to the couple that they challenge the constitutional amendment rather than seek an exception to state law.

Depending on the outcome of case, the ruling could have a major impact in Michigan, especially for unmarried parents who wish to adopt. The stakes are high for those parents and the children involved. More broadly, the values of citizens across the state of Michigan are part of the story as well.

Regardless of what happens on the big constitutional issue, an experienced attorney can be helpful in maneuvering through the legal process. Experienced legal representation can alleviate some of the stress on the parties involved.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “Same-sex couple may challenge state law,” Sept. 6, 2012