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Ohio house
leaders say adoption proposal not a priority

Ohio house
leaders say adoption proposal not a priority

Adoption01

A state proposal to bar gays from adopting is likely to die as legislative leaders focus on Ohio's lagging economy, a top house aide in Columbus said.

A state proposal to ban adoption by gays and lesbians is likely to die as legislative leaders focus on Ohio's lagging economy, a top house aide in Columbus said. A group of the most socially conservative house members introduced the bill Thursday to prevent children from being placed for adoption or foster care in homes where the prospective parent or a roommate is gay, bisexual, or transgender. Scott Borgemenke, chief of staff to house speaker Jon Husted, dismissed the bill on Friday as discriminatory and said Husted, a Dayton-area Republican, has other priorities. "There's a growing concern within the Republican Party of continuing to introduce this divisive legislation," he said. "We don't think there's some cottage industry of homosexual adoptions. We do believe people are losing their jobs." State representative Ron Hood, the Ashville Republican sponsoring the bill, said he believes children raised by gay parents have increased risk of physical and emotional problems and might question their own sexuality. "Studies have shown that the optimal setting to raise children is in a traditional setting with a mom and a dad," Hood said. The bill would not apply to single men or women seeking to adopt. Only Florida has an outright ban on adoption by gays, although the state allows gays to be foster parents. None of the similar bills introduced in several states in recent years has passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ohio has about 22,000 children in foster care. About 3,000 are available for adoption because their parents' rights to them are severed, according to 2004 figures from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Critics say the bill would not only tear families apart but increase the wait for children to get adopted. "There is always a shortage of foster homes all over the country," said Susan Truitt, legal projects coordinator for the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at Capital University in Columbus. "To exclude an entire segment of the population from the opportunity to foster or adopt is a disservice to these children." Truitt said those behind the bill are trying to create a "wedge issue" for the November election. "It's the 'get out the vote' for the right-wing nuts," she said. But Barry Sheets, a Columbus lobbyist for Citizens for Community Values, called the bill sound public policy. The Cincinnati-based group led the successful 2004 ballot initiative that amended the Ohio constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. "The state's responsibility is to be guardians of these wards," Sheets said. "He [Hood] wants to make sure that the state is taking very great care in looking at what's in the best interest of the child first and foremost and letting all other considerations become secondary." Teresa Robinson, who with her partner, Kelly Robinson, raises three daughters and two foster children in suburban Cincinnati, said she felt under attack. "What are they thinking?" Robinson, 43, said. "There are no studies whatsoever saying that a child benefits greater being in a gay home or a straight home. It's like having someone put a KKK cross in your front yard. In someone's opinion, you're not right. The crazy thing is, they're the ones that have the hatred in their heart. They're they ones that have the fear in their heart. I'm just raising kids and paying taxes." (AP)

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