Gay Adoption Hub

GOP-Dominated Florida House Moves to Remove Language Banning Gay Adoption from Law

The Florida House of Representatives is likely to strike language banning gay adoption from its laws in an acknowledgement of the court ruling five years ago declaring the state's gay adoption ban unconstitutional, the AP reports. The body gave it an early approval on Tuesday:

CrisafulliThe full bill still needs a House vote, but it has wide support. The Senate and Gov. Rick Scott would also have to approve the bill before the gay-adoption language is deleted from law.

Republican House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (pictured) said the vote isn't necessarily an endorsement of current policy that allows gays to adopt.

"Philosophically, I've never really been there on that, but I'm somebody who operates under the letter of the law," he said. "I recognize that this has been taking place for five years, so our bill is going to reflect that."

Basically, most of the Republicans are still against gay couples adopting children, they're just acknowledging they must abide by the law - five years later.

Michigan Conservatives Pushing Bills To Block LGBT Couples From Adopting

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The Michigan House of Representatives will soon consider House Bills 4188, 4189, and 4190, three pieces of legislation that would empower publicly-funded adoption organizations to turn away LGBT parents interested in adopting a child. On Wednesday the block of bills was approved in a 5-3 vote within Michigan’s Families, Children, and Seniors Committee.

By citing their own religious or moral convictions, the laws explain, adoption agencies would have the ability to intercede into any and all potential child placements should the potential parents be deemed unfit. State and local officials would also be technically barred from trying to challenge any public adoption agency’s decision to refuse service to queer people.

Laws similar to these three were first proposed during the Michigan House’s last legislative session, but were ultimately dismissed after dying in the state senate. This time around, however, advocates of the bill are pushing for a swift advancement to the Senate floor, something LGBT rights groups are urging Michiganders to fight.

"This legislation is making things harder for the over 3,000 foster care children currently awaiting homes,” said Equality Michigan’s political advocacy director Sommer Foster. “Our leaders are wasting precious time and our money to harm children in need.”

According to Equality Michigan there are some 14,000 children caught up in the state’s foster care system, many of whom are stuck in a legal limbo linked to the sexual orientations and gender identities of their prospective, adoptive parents. What’s more, the House Bills themselves make explicit reference to the fact that their restrictions could, in fact cause outcomes not “in the best interests of the adoptee."

Slovenian Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption

VoteBy a vote of 51-28, Slovenia's Parliament today passed legislation that would amend the current marriage and family relations act to allow same-sex couples to legally be married and adopt. As STA reports, "A coalition of conservative groups has already announced efforts for a referendum." Slovenia is the 12th European nation to recognize same-sex marriage.

(Photo via Twitter)

Nebraska Ends Ban on Gay Foster Parents

Nebraska child welfare officials have lifted the 20-year-old ban on gay foster parents, the Omaha World-Herald reports:

RickettsAccording to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ spokesman, the state’s current procedure no longer considers the sexual orientation of people seeking to foster or adopt state wards.

Nor does the procedure bar children from being placed with licensed foster parents simply because of the parents’ sexual orientation.

“The policy hasn’t changed but the Department (of Health and Human Services) has fallen out of compliance with it,” Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said Friday. [...]

The policy has been in place since 1995, when HHS’s then-director outlined it in an administrative memo.

The memo bars unmarried, unrelated adults who live together from becoming foster parents or from having children placed with them. The policy affects homosexual couples, unmarried heterosexual couples and platonic roommates.

The policy also bars licensing or placing children with “persons who identify themselves as homosexuals,” whether those people live with a partner or not. Other single people are not prohibited from being foster parents in Nebraska.

Lesbian Couple That Brought Down Alabama's Gay Marriage Ban Sues State Over Second-Parent Adoption

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Previously, we told you about Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, the Mobile, Alabama couple that sued the state to recognize their 2008 wedding in California as legitimate and sought crowdfunding to help to pay for the $40,000 in legal fees they incurred fighting the discriminatory ban. The couple is set to head back to court, filing a new lawsuit against the state, demanding that Searcy's request for a second-parent adoption of the child the couple have raised together be granted immediately. Probate Judge Don Davis had denied the petition despite the recent ruling striking down Alabama's marriage ban. Davis said he would not consider the matter until the Supreme Court rules on the same-sex marriage cases it agreed to undertake. 

As reports, the very reason Searcy and McKeand challenged Alabama's marriage ban in the first place was so that Searcy could be legally recognized as a parent to their son:

David Kennedy, one of the couple's lawyers, expressed exasperation at Davis' decision. He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade's order to take effect and that Granade handed down a separate order on Feb. 13 specifically instructing Davis to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban.

"I'm disappointed. The United States Supreme Court made a decision with the ruling in the Searcy case," he said. "We don't think that it's fair or equitable to Cari Searcy to wait until the Supreme Court has ruled on some 6th Circuit (U.S. Court of Appeals) case." [...]

On Friday, Davis issued an "interlocutory decree" granting Searcy temporary parental rights, including the authority to consent to necessary medical treatment. Such temporary orders are standard in second-parent adoptions until the court can convene a hearing to review any potential objection to a permanent adoption.

Those final hearings typically last about 15 minutes, according to lawyers familiar with those proceedings.

But Davis included a paragraph stating, "It is further ORDERED by the Court that this Decree is qualified in nature, and the Court will not issue a final adoption order until a final ruling is issued in the United States Supreme Court on the Marriage Act cases before it."

In addition to the court order instructing Davis to grant the adoption without further delay, the lawsuit also asks for compensatory and - if the judge deems it appropriate - punitive damages, as well as legal fees.

While the interlocutory decree grants Searcy some additional rights it does guarantee that Searcy would have custody over the child should her wife die. 

Low Voter Turnout Kills Slovakia's Anti-gay Referendum on Marriage and Adoption Rights

A (Pope Francis-backed) referendum that would have reinforced Slovakia's existing laws against gay marriage and adoption rights has failed due to low voter turnout, The Wall Street Journal reports

SlovakiaOnly 21.4% eligible voters cast their ballots, below the required 50% quorum in this predominantly Roman Catholic country of five million people to make the national-vote results legally binding, according to the Slovak electoral commission. Poll results were based on data collected from nearly all polling stations.

The preliminary results showed that most of those voting in the referendum agreed to all three questions it asked: whether marriage can only be a union of a man and a woman; whether to ban same-sex couples from adopting children; and whether parents can let their children skip school classes involving education on sex and euthanasia.

The Slovak anti-gay vote followed a similar referendum that succeeded in Croatia, also a Roman Catholic EU member, in 2013. The different results reflect cultural differences within Europe on gay rights. Some people in mostly ex-Communist eastern EU states, including also Hungary and Poland, are against what they view as excessively liberal policies such as legalizing various forms of same-sex unions and children adoptions by gay couples possible elsewhere in the 28-nation bloc, including Austria and the Czech Republic.

Buzzfeed adds:

The Slovakian outlet reported just after midnight local time that voter turnout was 21.3%, with 99% of precincts reporting. The outlet reported that 94% of those who cast ballots on Saturday voted in favor of the ban on marriage equality, but opponents of the initiative encouraged people to stay home so that a “yes” vote would be invalid.

The ballot included three questions. The first asked voters if marriage should be defined as a union between a man and a woman. This was mostly symbolic, because Slovakia’s parliament established that definition in the country’s constitution in a June vote.

The other two questions would have changed existing law if passed, asking if same-sex couples should be denied the right to adopt and whether parents should have the right to withdraw their children from sexual education classes.

The referendum was backed by anti-gay U.S. organizations including NOM and Alliance Defending Freedom - as well as the World Congress of Families. These organizations' international anti-gay efforts were documented last year in the HRC's "The Export of Hate" report. 


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