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Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Outlawing Florida’s Ban On Gay Adoptions

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"Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Outlawing Florida’s Ban On Gay Adoptions"

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This afternoon, two Florida lawmakers introduced legislation to overturn the state’s ban on gay adoptions, something the legislature hasn’t debated in the law’s 33-year history.

Rep. Scott Randolph’s measure, which amended a bill about gun ownership and adoptions, would have prevented “adoption agencies from inquiring about a person’s sexual orientation as a requisite for adoption.” Randolph was forced to withdraw his amendment after the Speaker ruled that it was not germane to the bill. Sen. Charlie Justice also withdrew his bill in the Senate.

“This amendment points out that government should not ask irrelevant questions in the adoption process which tell us nothing about a person’s ability to provide a permanent and loving home. Rather, it’s lawful and responsible gun ownership or a person’s sexual orientation,” Randolph announced on the House floor. He also explained how lifting the ban would benefit children:

RANDOLPH: Three thousand children are in need of adoption and are waiting for us to do the right thing. But Florida’s current adoption ban does not allow gay and lesbians to adopt in this state. In an era of very tight budgets, this cost of inaction on this issue is $2.5 million a year. It’s time to let family judges and child welfare advocates do their job by making the best standard for each child to be the only standard for deciding adoption cases. The legislature has the power to stop that right now today.

Watch it:

Florida, which enacted its ban in 1977 — two years before the first reported case of an adoption by an openly gay person anywhere in the country — is the only state to explicitly prohibit gays and lesbians from adopting children. “Even those who voted for this ban more than three decades ago say they were caught up in they hysteria of the time and regret passing this legislation,” Randolph observed, referring to activist Anita Bryant’s campaign against expanded rights for homosexuals. At the time, Bryant and other conservatives claimed that “the recruitment of our children is absolutely necessary for the survival and growth of homosexuality–for since homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit, they must freshen their ranks.”

“I hope there is a day very soon when this body will truly debate this issue,” Randolph said. “But unfortunately, that’s not today.” Randolph’s office told me that it’s unlikely that measure would pass the Republican dominated House or Senate, but stressed that a vote on the amendment would force lawmakers to publicly register their support for the restriction.

There is some hope that the attitude towards gay adoption is slowly changing in Florida. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that “a majority of Floridians now oppose the ban” and three recent court decisions have ruled that the ban violates Florida’s constitution. Currently, the issue is now “before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals and is headed most likely to the state Supreme Court.”

Transcript:

HB 315 as written would prohibit adoption agencies from deciding if a perspective parent is suitable to adopt based on whether or not that person has lawful possession of fire arms in the home. This amendment would also prohibit adoption agencies from inquiring about a persons’ sexual orientation as a requisite for adoption. This bill and this amendment points out that government should not ask irrelevant questions in the adoption process which tell us nothing about a person’s ability to provide a permanent and loving home. Rather, it’s lawful and responsible gun ownership or a person’s sexual orientation.

Three thousand children are in need of adoption and are waiting for us to do the right thing. But Florida’s current adoption ban does not allow gay and lesbians to adopt in this state. In an era of very tight budgets, this cost of inaction on this issue is $2.5 million a year. It’s time to let family judges and child welfare advocates do their job by making the best standard for each child to be the only standard for deciding adoption cases. The legislature has the power to stop that right now today.

Even those who voted for this ban more than three decades ago say they were caught up in they hysteria of the time and regret passing this legislation. I hope there is a day very soon when this body will truly debate this issue. But unfortunately, that’s not today. I want to thank the speaker for indulging me a few minutes to introduce this amendment. And with that, I withdraw this amendment, Mr. Speaker.

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