Florida lawmaker Senator Nan Rich continues gay adoption fight

Florida State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, has filed two bills that would permit gay couples to adopt children. Rich said state law already permits such couples to be foster parents and a Miami circuit judge’s decision striking down the adoption ban is on appeal.

But the leader of a successful campaign banning gay marriage in Florida’s constitution said Tuesday that Rich has little chance of winning, in court or in the Legislature. John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said his organization is tracking the court case and the legislation, and will oppose any change.

Rich said one of her bills (SB 500) would repeal the law forbidding all homosexuals to adopt children. The other (SB 460) would allow judges to grant adoption if a child’s natural parents are dead, if the child has been in foster care of the person or couple seeking to adopt, or under some other special conditions relating to the child’s best interests.

Amanda Evans, a Florida Gulf Coast University social work professor, favors both proposals to move away from the ban. She heads the Florida chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, which opposes the ban.

Research shows the same development and advantages for children raised by gay parents as opposed to heterosexuals. Organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, have opposed barriers to adoption by gay couples.

Evans anticipates lawmakers would lean more toward looking at adoptions by gay parents on a judicial basis instead of repealing it.

“If I were a Republican lawmaker and worried about conservatives, this would be an easy way to satisfy everybody,” she said.

Rich said there are thousands of children in foster care “and every one of them did not get there because of abuse and neglect in a gay household. Every one of them got there due to abuse and neglect by heterosexual parents, whose home they had to be removed from.”