Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rhode Island: Bastard Nation Letter to RI Senate in support of S478 Sub A

Dear Senator:

Bastard Nation, the Adoptee Rights Organization, the largest adoptee civil rights organization in North America, conditionally supports Rhode Island S 478 Sub A.

Bastard Nation is happy that S 478 Sub A is clean, bill that makes the OBC available to all Rhode Island adoptees without restrictions. We do not, however , support the age qualification, which limits access to adoptees 30 years of age and older. We believe that adopted adults should be treated the same under law as the not-adopted. We, therefore, urge the Senate to extend access to all adoptees when they reach the age of majority.

The age of majority is defined as "adulthood in the eyes of the law." After reaching majority, a person is permitted to vote, make a valid will, enter into binding contracts, marry, enlist in the military, and purchase alcohol. Also, parents may stop making child support payments when a child reaches the age of majority. In most states, including Rhode Island, the age of majority is 18, but this varies depending on the activity. In no state does age of majority exceed the age of 21.

Rhode Island Code: § 15-12-1: Persons of full age. – (a) Notwithstanding any general or public law or provision of the common law to the contrary, all persons who have attained the age of eighteen (18) years shall be deemed to be persons of full legal age.

The not-adopted of Rhode Island (or any other state) are not required by statute to be 30 years of age to access their own birth certificates. Likewise, in states where adoptee rights are in force, the age of majority holds. We believe that the 30 year qualification in S 478 Sub A is discriminatory and unnecessary. Since the Rhode Island House passed a similar bill, H 5453 Sub A, 3 66-0, a few days ago, (which will not now receive a Senate hearing) with the age of access set at 18, and with all arguments against access refuted in the Senate through the Do Pass recommendation of Health and Human Services sub bill, this burden makes no sense.

We urge the Senate to reconsider the age qualification, and amend S 478 Sub A to match Rhode Island's age of majority statute, 18. If the bill cannot be amended this session due to time constraints with end-of-session voting, we urge the legislature to pass the bill as currently written, but to return next session to amend the age qualification to align not only with the Rhode Island code, but with states across the country where OBCs are open unconditionally. While we prefer to see the bill amended to majority now, a sunset, which would lower the age of access within a reasonable time, which we understand will be proposed by Sen. Rhoda Perry during the floor vote, is acceptable, but regrettable. Without knowing the specifics of that amendment, we can only qualify our support of it and defer comment.

If the age qualification is not changed to conform with age of majority, a bad precedent will have been set, segregating OBC access qualification well into adulthood. No one should be forced to wait until the age of 30 to acquire the public documentation of his or her birth.

Please vote DO PASS on S478 Sub A. We also urge you to support an amendment to lower the age of access to conform with Rhode Island age of majority statute, sunset or not. Make Rhode Island a pioneer voice in the restoration of adoptee civil rights! It's the right thing to do!

Marley E. Greiner
Executive Chair,
Bastard Nation, the Adoptee Rights Organization

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