The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting a surge in petitions for adoption by gay and lesbian foster parents in the past year:
“For 33 years, Florida barred gays and lesbians from adopting. That changed last October, when Florida's Third District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled the law unenforceable and the state declined to challenge it. Since then, family law attorneys estimate more than 100 men and women in South Florida's gay and lesbian community have pending adoption cases.”
There is nothing surprising about this. For many years, the Florida foster system has been happy to place children in gay and lesbian homes while denying permanency to the children placed there, by banning gay adoption. Advocates for children in the public system have long bemoaned the ban, which has kept children in the state’s care when the expense and burden of this might have been passed onto enthusiastic, loving parents.
The irony of how folks have worked their families around the policy would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. For example, one lesbian couple interviewed by the Sun-Sentinel explained that when they were denied the right to adopt in Florida, they moved to California, adopted two waiting children from the foster system there, then moved back to Florida.
The obvious anti-gay prejudice of the law has chafed many in Florida (and onlookers from outside the state) for years. If gay and lesbian parents are good enough to foster children -- often for years -- why aren’t they good enough to take responsibility for those children from the state, offer those children the security of a permanent family, and adopt?
The law against gay and lesbian adoption remains on the books in Florida and anti-gay activists have pushed for its defense and reinstatement in practice. I, for one, doubt the state of Florida will find it worthwhile, however, to go back to the meaningless discrimination that has hurt Florida’s children for so many years.
Though Florida has long been considered the least family-friendly place in the country, adoption for queer parents in the United States is a spotty state-by-state matter. Some states have better laws than others. In many cases, one gay or lesbian person can be a child’s legal parent, but a second parent of the same sex cannot.
Laws that leave children in queer families uncovered by the same protections of children in heterosexual families have no place in the 21st century. It’s time to assure that all children have equal protection under the law and give them two parents when there are two parents desiring to take on the responsibility of parenting.
For more information o\n GLBT adoption and other family law in the individual states, see the HRC’s adoption section.
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