Senators discuss changing Michigan's paternity act

Justice for Maeleigh members demonstrate in front of the Genesee County Courthouse

Thursday, Michigan senators discussed four bills that would change Michigan's paternal law.

A local man brought that law into question because DNA shows he's the father, yet the state says he has no rights as a father.

There is support from republicans, democrats, and judges who say it's the right thing to do.

Daniel Quinn, from Fenton says, "I love my daughter very much. I think about her everyday." The last day he saw his daughter Maeleigh was Memorial Day of 2008.

She was three then.

She's now five.

Daniel is the biological father.

Maeleigh is the result of his relationship with a married woman.

"That was my fault. That was my mistake," says Quinn about being sexually involved with a married woman. He says while he messed up, his daughter should not suffer because of that mistake.

Because of Michigan's paternity act, written in the 1950's, Daniel has no standing as Maeleigh's father, but the husband of Maeleigh's mother does.

That husband is serving time for drug charges.

Daniel says his daughter should not have been in that situation to begin with. "We are now opening the door for biological fathers to claim responsibility for their children. But at the same time, we're protecting the other side of that equation."

That other side includes men who have been fathers to children that are not their own biologically.

"This would untie the judge's hands in the State of Michigan to allow them to rule what is best for the child on a case by case basis," says Quinn.

Local Senator John Gleason is one of the co-sponsors of the bills. He says, "Everybody understands this is an issue of decency. It really should not have come to this point."

Gleason says it's unfortunate the current law of the land keeps a biological father from taking an active role in his child's life.

He applauds Daniel's efforts to get back to his daughter. "I'm really proud of him, and I know he's going to help a lot of parents that have been shut out of the system," says Gleason.

Daniel says there are 13 other states with similar laws like Michigan. He's interested in getting those changed as well.

The potential legislation includes senate bill 557, 558, 559, and 560.