Florida adoption ban overturned

The Florida law that states “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual” was overturned Tuesday, insuring that two young children will have a permanent home with the only family they have ever known. “There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting,” ruled Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman in finding the law unconstitutional. A few states (Arkansas now among them) prohibit adoption by “unmarried” couples and individuals, but Florida was the only state with a prohibition explicitly based on sexual orientation. The 1977 law was an anachronism left over from the era of Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell.

Just a few short years ago, a bill with nearly identical wording to the Florida law was introduced by former Loudoun Delegate Dick Black (in fact, he cited Florida as his model). Black flew the discredited “researcher” Paul Cameron to Virginia for a press conference and to provide expert testimony. Black also did an interview with Concerned Women for America’s Robert Knight, in which they present some of the outrageous claims Black and his cohorts intended to make before the Senate committee – for instance, that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are at an increased risk of being “molested by that parent” of 50:1, and that adoption agencies are providing children as “rewards for certain sex activists.” Just crazy, bizarre stuff.

Listen: [audio:black_cwa20050215.mp3]

Fortunately, Senate members had been alerted to the fraudulent Cameron and his florid claims; the bill, even after its language had been watered down, failed overwhelmingly on a voice vote. A few of the Senators (more or less politely) questioned Cameron closely and found him to be unconvincing:

“I read the newspapers a fair amount, watch a fair amount of TV and try to stay abreast of things. I’ve never heard of any of these studies,” said Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax. “You would think that if homosexuals were dying at the same average age of somebody who was a prostitute doing drugs, as you say, that this would be huge news on the front page of every newspaper in America.”

This sort of thing might have gone over in circa 1977 Florida. It was not going to fly here in 2005, not with the GLBT and allied community organized and able to speak the truth on our own behalf. Mr. Black’s declaration that the Virginia Senate is “aligned with various elements of vice” probably didn’t win him many friends, either.

Although Cameron himself didn’t testify in the Florida case, a couple of his close “research” associates did. They seem to have repeated the very same material – anti-scientific blather that only a hopelessly gullible (here’s where the word is appropriate, folks) bigot would find plausible.

The judge was not impressed.

“It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person’s ability to parent,” she wrote. “A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs.”

Numerous experts in child psychology and other pertinent fields testified that “there is no science to justify a gay adoption ban.” The adoptive father, Martin Gill, told reporters that the two boys “have been practicing writing their new last names,” and the older one said “that’s what’s going to make us a family.” Sweet.

The state is expected to appeal – but only unrepentant ideological judges could manage to ignore the facts laid out by every mainstream professional organization, summarized by the judge as “the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.” We’ll see. Meanwhile, a thread germane to this case is currently unwinding over at Too Conservative; it seems that there is disagreement among local Republicans over whether state Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) is electable statewide (he’s one of three potential Republican nominees for Attorney General). His weakness, according to some, is that he’s too closely associated with idiocy exactly like this. Cuccinelli did indeed cast the lone dissenting vote against an apparent effort to kill Black’s dumb bill before it became even more of an embarrassment. It’s an encouraging sign that this sort of thing is being flagged as a liability for statewide office in Virginia.

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