Bill would permit gay adoptions

March 16, 2007|By New York Times News Service

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida's 1977 ban on allowing gays to adopt children is under attack once again.

But the ban has powerful allies, including Gov. Charlie Crist and state Sen. Ronda Storms, who ran for office on a pledge to prevent gays from being foster parents.

Florida is one of three states, with Mississippi and Utah, that prohibit gays from adopting.

Some state lawmakers, backed by human rights and gay rights groups, want to allow gay foster parents to adopt children if a judge rules it's in the child's best interest or if a gay adult were the legal guardian of a child whose biological parents died.

"We're coming back this year," said Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat and a sponsor of the bill. "Every child needs and deserves a permanent, loving home."

Rich said 3,900 foster children are languishing in the system, burdening taxpayers as they await placement in permanent homes.

Three dozen groups formed the Coalition for Fair Adoption to push for a removal of the ban. They include the National Council of Jewish Women, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Equality Florida, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Pasco Pride.

Cathy James of Tampa said she has long cared for the 7-year-old biological son of her partner. "I have no legal standing in my child's life," she said.

Rich's bill to repeal the ban has been assigned to a committee led by Storms, who shows no interest in holding a hearing on the issue. As a Hillsborough County commissioner, Storms led an effort to stop official recognition of gay pride events.

"We're just weighing all the bills. There's lots of bills," Storms said Wednesday after her Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee took up seven other bills and adjourned 90 minutes ahead of schedule.

The chairman usually decides which bills to schedule for a vote.

"My view is always that the traditional family is best for the child," Crist said Wednesday.

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