Florida Senate passes bill to remove gay adoption ban

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tallahassee – The Florida Senate passed the Adoption and Foster Care bill (CS/HB 7013) with a vote of 27-11 which strikes the outdated language that prohibited gay people from adopting in the state of Florida.

The ban has been obsolete and unenforced since 2010, when it was ruled unconstitutional. The move to scrub the gay adoption ban language is part of a larger adoption bill that provides adoption benefits to state employees and incentive payments to community-based care groups. Of the 20 pages of bill language, just a single line applies to deleting the ban on adoption by gays.

Sen. Tom Lee (Brandon-R) focused his debate on this single line of language saying the removal of the language “ought to stand alone”.

“We have hijacked a piece of legislature that was supposed to be a feel good moment,” said Lee. We are dividing folks with this legislature.”

Sen. Don Gaetz (Destin-R), the bill sponsor, said he understood the “hijacked” feel of the bill but said that not passing this bill because of “a phrase which is now meaningless in law” didn’t help the children.

“I’m a person of faith,” Gaetz said. “I’m a Lutheran and I asked my church ‘what’s your attitude on this?’ and I was told ‘Lutherans follow the law, we will follow the law’.”

The Senate has another bill involving same-sex adoption in this legislative session. The anti-gay Conscience Protection bill (CS/HB 7111) was proposed, and passed, in the State House as a result of the pro-gay adoption bill being pushed through.

The Conscience Protection bill would allow faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples looking to adopt based on the agency’s religious and moral convictions.

“We should be voting on the [Conscience Protection bill] first,” said Lee. “It’s a bit of putting the cart before the horse. My guess is that bill is coming down here and is going right in the ditch.”

The Adoption and Foster Care bill, having been voted on in both the House and Senate, will now move on to Governor Rick Scott for signing. The Conscience Protection bill has not been added to the Senate agenda yet.

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