Senate finally allows debate on gay adoptionby Dara Kam | March 16th, 2010
Senate President Jeff Atwater allowed Democrats to talk about repealing the state’s gay adoption ban during the afternoon session today.
Sen. Nan Rich has tried and failed for the past four years to have her bills that would do away with Florida’s 33-year-old prohibition against gay couples or individuals adopting.
But today, Atwater allowed Sen. Charlie Justice to offer an amendment on a bill that would prohibit adoption agencies from discriminating against gun owners. Justice’s amendment proposed a similar prohibition for discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Whether a person owns a gun or not has no bearing on his or her ability to be a loving parent,” Rich, D-Weston, said.
The ban on gay adoption is a “far graver inequality,” she said, and is “a law grounded on fear and ignorance rather than in sound public policy.”
Gay couples are allowed to be foster parents but are barred from permanently adopting the children. More than 3,000 Florida kids are waiting to be adopted and about 25,000 of them live in foster care.
A state appeals court is currently considering whether the law is unconstitutional, as some judges have recently ruled. The 1st District Court of Appeals could rule at any time on a case in which a judge allowed Martin Gill, a gay Miami-Dade County man, to adopt two foster children who have been in his care for years. The state is appealing the adoptions.
“I know this amendment is not going to pass today and that Florida’s discriminatory adoption ban will not fall today,” Rich concluded. ”It’s been four year since there’s been any debate on this issue in any official Senate proceeding in any Senate committee and it’s been 33 years since this issue has been debated on the floor of this chamber. It’s about time we did something about that.”
Justice, D-St. Petersburg, withdrew the amendment before a vote could be taken.
Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, offered a similar amendment on the House floor this afternoon. He also withdrew the measure before it could be voted on.