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Florida Leaders See Hope in Adoption Bill

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Gay rights leaders in Florida -- the only state that explicitly bars gay couples from adopting -- are hopeful that a recently introduced federal adoption bill will make the state rethink its discriminatory law.

California congressman Pete Stark last week introduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would cut off federal funding for any state program or agency that receives federal assistance for adoption or foster care placements but fails to comply with the nondiscrimination policies set forth in the legislation. Advocates hope that states will abandon discriminatory bans on adoption by same-sex couples if their funding is threatened by the federal government.

Florida's discriminatory adoption law, a remnant of the Anita Bryant antigay crusade of the 1970s, would be affected by Stark's bill should it pass. Civil rights leaders have been trying to reverse Florida's law for years; the state is currently appealing a Miami-Dade circuit judge's 2008 ruling that a Florida man's sexual orientation should not preclude him from adopting his two foster children.

OnTopMag.com reports that Florida's gay advocates are getting together behind Stark. Cathy James, president of Securing Our Children's Rights, a group advocating for repeal of the Florida ban, promised to work with Stark's office to pass his bill, comparing his measure to the Adoptions and Safe Families Act of 1977, which imposed "significant financial penalties on states that do not meet specific federal goals."

Florida's law states, "No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual."

Other states have banned adoption by gay couples implicitly; a recently passed Arkansas law bars unmarried couples from adopting, effectively eliminating same-sex couples, who cannot legally marry in the state.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.