Rosie O'Donnell notes backlash in adoption battle

By Editors

Originally published on June 25 2002 12:00 AM ET

Rosie O'Donnell said she's begun to feel the sting of leading the fight to allow gays and lesbians to adopt children in Florida, noting that a medical association recently rescinded an invitation to speak at their convention. "They said they were afraid of protesters," O'Donnell told 200 women Sunday at the two-day Wise Women Weekend retreat in Miami Beach. "I'm not used to being considered controversial." O'Donnell also responded to her opponents' criticism that her crusade is a gay issue. "I have no homosexual agenda," she said. "I have a child agenda."

The 40-year-old talk show host and comedian, who has a home in Miami Beach and has adopted three children outside Florida, said she learned about the ban when she applied to adopt a Florida foster child in her care. "It stunned me to know that Florida, the state where I live, is the only one that does not allow gay adoptions," said O'Donnell, who came out in March. Florida passed the gay adoption ban in 1977 at a time when entertainer Anita Bryant went on a crusade against a Dade County ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination.

Last August a federal judge in Miami upheld the law in a case brought by two gay men who wanted to adopt foster children already in their care. The decision is being appealed. O'Donnell's efforts to win support for a possible repeal of the law received little support in the Florida legislature in March.