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Will state choose no parents over gay parents?

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Old February 11th 05, 03:53 PM
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Default Will state choose no parents over gay parents?

Will state choose no parents over gay parents?

By Bill Cotterell


Now that the U. S. Supreme Court has upheld Florida's ban on adoption
by homosexuals, a handful of legislators will ask their
colleagues whether they really believe that having no parents is
better than being raised by gay people.

That's the essence of a bill (HB 633) filed by Rep. Sheri McInvale,
D-Orlando. It provides that, notwithstanding any other law, judges
will consider the best interests of children when deciding whether to
let foster parents adopt them.

McInvale enlisted a conservative co-sponsor, Tampa Republican Faye
Culp, to give the idea a fighting chance in the GOP-run
House and Senate.

First-term Sen. Nan Rich of Weston is taking a slightly different
approach in the Senate. Her bill, not filed yet, provides a two-part
for judges to grant adoptions if the child views the petitioning
adults as his or her "parental figures" and if placing the kid
is better than continuing foster care.

The women all agree that repealing the law against adoption is
politically impossible. Coming off an election in which voters
approved marriage definitions in 11 states, and considering that the
president wants a constitutional amendment to "defend"
marriage, they can't expect state House and Senate members to toss out
a law that has just been approved by the nation's highest

Besides, there's no political downside to voting against gays.

No matter how you feel about marriage or civil unions or hate crime
laws or the city and county ordinances that include sexuality
under civil-rights protections, it's hard to follow the logic of
Florida's absolute ban on adoptions. With thousands of children in
care, with just about any type of heterosexual eligible to adopt,
prejudice seems like the only explanation for it.

Frankly, having the bill considered during the Michael Jackson trial
won't help. But whatever Jackson may have done with those
boys - and he is presumed innocent - he wasn't a foster parent trying
to adopt them.

Meanwhile, supporters of the status quo might want to consider the
Citrus County couple arrested in Utah last week on charges of
aggravated child abuse. They were accused of torturing and starving
five of their eight adopted children - pulling out toenails,
shackling them with chains and shocking them with electrical cords.

We don't know if they're guilty or innocent, but at least we can
assume they're straight. So their adoptions were just fine with

Suppose Jackson and that married couple get all charges dropped on a
technicality. Legally, they could then adopt children in
Florida. A judge might rule against them but at least they'd get a

Florida allows single people to adopt, so some closeted gays have
undoubtedly done so. If two women split expenses, does the
Department of Children & Families ask how many men have stayed over
in, say, the past month? If two bachelors share an address,
does the state make them prove they're just roommates before one of
them can adopt?

Gay foster parents can keep children for years. Individually or in
pairs, they can go out of state and adopt, bringing a child back with
them. If a lesbian conceives a child biologically, the state doesn't
rush in and "rescue" the baby.

"Our law says you're a good enough foster parent to take a kid in
state custody but you're not a good enough parent for an
adoption," said McInvale. "This is a wrong that needs to be righted,
after the Supreme Court refused to hear the Florida case,
because all of the plaintiffs in that case were foster parents."

Rich said she agrees with McInvale's bill, but did not support a
provision requiring foster children to live 36 months with a would-be
parent, to qualify for adoption. She said "bonding" might occur in a
year or less, and that should be the test.

"I'd like to repeal the law, yes, but the climate is what the climate
is," said Rich. Her version of the bill would allow judges to approve
adoptions for a child who "already resides with and understands the
petitioner or petitioners to be the parental figures in his or her
life" and when granting adoption "is more important to the adoptee's
developmental and psychological needs than maintaining the
adoptee in a temporary placement."

Culp, a retired school teacher who has been involved in foster care
issues for several years, said the persuasive point for her was
that "it's still going to be up to a judge." Some judges would
probably never consider gay parents suitable, while others probably
already do.

So the women are asking state government: What's wrong with leaving it
up to the person whose job is to look at the facts, the law
and the human beings in each case?
Defend your civil liberties! Get information at http://www.aclu.org, become a member at http://www.aclu.org/join and get active at http://www.aclu.org/action.

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