Yesterday, the Florida legislature passed legislation — backed by the National Rifle Association — that would bar adoption agencies from asking whether prospective parents have guns or ammunition in their homes. The bill “rocketed” out of the legislature and now just needs the signature of Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who supports the measure. The AP explains what prompted the bill:
The issue of adoptions by gun owners came to light after a few prospective parents complained last year that the Children’s Home Society of Florida, the state’s largest provider of services to children and families, was asking applicants to disclose information about weapons or ammunition they keep at home. Florida law bans state agencies or their agents from maintaining a registry of firearm owners.
Florida officials said that the gun measure — which passed unanimously in the House and with the support of everyone except two Democrats in the Senate — “fixes a problem that wasn’t widespread and was the result of a mix-up at the Children’s Home Society.” State Democratic lawmaker Evan Jenne argued that the bill was relatively “innocuous,” and Democratic Rep. Scott Randolph said it was “pandering” to the NRA. Rep. Mike Horner (R) decided to sponsor the bill after an adoption agency asked whether he owned a gun when he and his wife were looking to adopt.
Basically, what Florida is saying is that it’s totally fine to own guns if you want to adopt children — just as long as you’re not gay. While state legislators rushed to pass the NRA-backed measure that fixes a relatively small problem, they still haven’t addressed the major issue that gay families are banned from adopting children. A couple of state lawmakers tried to introduce amendments to the gun bill that would have also barred “adoption agencies from inquiring about a person’s sexual orientation as a requisite for adoption,” but they eventually had to withdraw them.
Florida is the only state to explicitly outlaw gay and lesbian adoptions. The state implemented its ban in 1977 — two years before the first reported case of an adoption by an openly gay person anywhere in the country. Until this week, there hadn’t been a serious debate on the Florida gay adoption ban in the law’s 33-year history.
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.”