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Adoption by gay
couples wanes as issue in U.S.

Adoption by gay
couples wanes as issue in U.S.

Adoption_ruling_1

Opposition to letting gay couples adopt children, currently roiling the British government, has forced relatively few changes in the United States, those familiar with the situation said this week.

Opposition to letting gay couples adopt children, currently roiling the British government, has forced relatively few changes in the United States, those familiar with the situation said this week. So far Roman Catholic organizations in only two cities--Boston and San Francisco--have said they have opted out of arranging all adoptions in response to laws designed to guarantee gay couples' adoption rights. And on the political front what appeared to be a drive two years ago to encourage states to pass laws stopping adoptions by gays seems to have petered out, with only a handful of states taking that route. In the United Kingdom, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, and the nation's leading Catholic cardinal are pressing Prime Minister Tony Blair to exempt Catholic adoption agencies from new antidiscrimination laws. The religious leaders contend the laws would force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with gay couples. The Vatican in 2003 issued a condemnation of adoption by gays, calling it "gravely immoral" and something that would "mean doing violence to these children." It's unclear how U.S. Catholic adoption organizations outside of Boston and San Francisco have chosen to address the Vatican's stance. Laws regarding adoption are under the jurisdiction of U.S. states, not national policy, and the introduction of broad laws banning discrimination against gays in California and Massachusetts brought the adoption issue to a head there. In Massachusetts it arose a year ago, ultimately causing Catholic Charities in the Boston archdiocese to halt its adoption services rather than be caught in a clash between the church's directive and state law. The Boston organization said it had permanently placed 720 children since 1977 under a contract it had with the state but that only 13 were with same-sex families. It turned to a private organization to process the remaining cases it was handling and nothing has changed since, a spokeswoman said. It continues to handle birth parent counseling, infant adoption awareness training, and postplacement services. Catholic Charities in the San Francisco archdiocese also no longer does direct adoptions but acts as a resource for an outside agency in what a spokeswoman said has turned out to be a "win-win" collaboration that benefits children in foster homes. But those two cities appear to be the only places where the issue has prompted such a major step by Catholic organizations, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Child Welfare League of America. Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy organization based in Washington, said there has been very little movement toward banning adoptions by same-sex couples state-by-state, though a number of measures were considered in the last few years. Currently laws restricting such adoptions exist in four states--with Florida specifically banning adoptions by "homosexual couples" and three others saying unmarried couples may not adopt. Evans said the push for such statutes seems to have faltered because polls indicate many in the United States feel "such decisions need to be made by judges and child welfare experts" and not by lawmakers. (Reuters)

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