By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com October 16 2002 11:00 PM ET
Florida governor Jeb Bush, faced with a dwindling lead in the polls in his race to be reelected, squared off against Democratic rival Bill McBride Tuesday in a debate that highlighted the candidates' differing views on gay rights.
Florida is the only state in the nation that has a blanket prohibition on gay men and lesbians adopting children. Bush said he doesn't think gays should be allowed to adopt, while McBride called such a policy discrimination and said, "It's not the American way, and it's not the right way."
The Miami Herald reports that when the topic of the gay adoption ban came up, Bush was forced to answer to a remark he made recently implying that the caretakers of a missing Miami child are lesbian. "I didn't mean any harm by the remarks," Bush said.
Neither candidate mentioned that McBride, while heading up the law firm Holland and Knight, declined to represent a gay couple who, as foster parents, wanted to challenge Florida law and be allowed to adopt. McBride has previously said that there was no consensus within the firm on taking the case--which created a rift among partners--and that he did not want to push his views on his colleagues.