Florida Rep. changes course on adoption vote

By : Jamie Hyman
Comments: 0

Ocala – One meeting with notorious anti-gay activist John Stemberger and state representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) no longer supports a bill that would strike Florida’s gay adoption ban language from the books.

The gay adoption ban amendment is just a small part of HB 7013, a larger adoption bill that provides adoption benefits to state employees and incentive payments to community-based care groups.

During a March 11 House vote, where the legislators voted 68-50 in favor of the bill, Baxley was one of just a few representatives who spoke about the adoption ban amendment, calling it “one of the toughest votes I’ve made in this chamber” and stating that he stayed up all night thinking and praying.

Baxley, a father of five adopted children, said he ultimately decided to vote in favor of the bill, but has now reversed his vote.

After the vote, Stemberger tweeted “Funny whenever gays are involved the centuries old best interest of children legal standard is completely ignored @MyFLHouse @FLGOPMajority.”

“What it has done is put me in the position of affirming homosexual adoption, and that’s not where I am,” Baxley told Florida Politics, and also said he apologized to Stemberger.

Stemberger tweeted again March 13 about Baxley changing his vote: “Just spoke with @DennisBaxley. Said he made a huge mistake in voting for gay adoption bill HB7013. He’s changing his vote. #StilltheNorthStar.”

It’s a lot of hand-wringing over a bill that won’t make that much of a difference – it simply strikes outdated language from the statute because the gay adoption ban hasn’t been enforced since it was ruled unconstitutional in 2010.

The law was first passed by the Florida Legislature in 1977 after the anti-gay “Save Our Children” campaign by Anita Bryant. A circuit appeals court upheld the ban in 2004, but a state appeals court struck it down in 2010 and gay people in Florida have been successfully adopting since then.

Share this story: