Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Brandenburg Sponsor's Legislation to End Gay Adoption Ban

“There are over 3,000 children in Florida awaiting adoption right now, according to the Department of Children and Families. That is unacceptable. Every child should be able to live in a permanent, loving home,” said Representative Mary Brandenburg (D-Lake Worth). “That is why I filed a bill that that allows judges to approve adoptions based solely on what is best for the child.”

Child psychologists agree with what parents instinctively know: children thrive as family members. Even non-traditional families, such as those headed by a single parent, by grandparents, or by same-sex couples can raise their children successfully. On the other hand, children who languish in foster homes are much more likely to drop out of school, become teen-age parents, and get into trouble with the law.

Right now, Florida allows families headed by gay and lesbian couples to serve as short- and long-term foster parents, but does not allow them to permanently adopt the children they are caring for. “That just doesn’t make sense,” said Rep. Brandenburg. “Why are the standards different for foster parents and permanent parents? Why does the State of Florida continue to deny foster kids the opportunity of living in a forever family? That isn’t fair to the 3,000+ children hoping to escape foster care for a permanent home.” A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in January, 2009, found that most Floridians believe gay and lesbian people should be permitted to adopt.

Florida is the only state with a statutory ban against same-sex individuals or couples adopting. A Miami judge threw out this law last year, but that decision is under appeal. Rep. Brandenburg’s bill would eliminate the need for lengthy appeals. Rep. Brandenburg’s House Bill 413 would allow a judge to determine, on an individual basis, whether adoption into a specific family would be in the best interest of the child. Senator Nan Rich (D-Sunrise) has filed identical legislation in the Florida Senate.

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