The Slippery Slope of Taking Away Freedoms

This goes in the pile of proof that backers of civil unions and marriage bans have more on their minds than “defending marriage.”

According to today’s USA Today, social conservative organizations and lawmakers in 16 states are now pushing measures to outlaw adoption and sometimes foster care for lesbian and gay people.

Ohio is one of those states. In 2004, voters there approved a civil unions and marriage ban. Some political analysts make a persuasive case that this ballot initiative helped Bush win the state.

So why not throw out more red meat? Why not propose another measure that picks on gay people?

"Now that we've defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship," says Greg Quinlan of Ohio's Pro-Family Network, a conservative Christian group, in the USA Today story.

First it’s civil unions and marriage. Now it’s adoption and foster care. What’s next?

The saddest thing is the way children get caught up in this debate. I’ve seen first hand a number of kids whose lives were vastly improved by being adopted into the homes of loving gay parents. These kids were in foster care, had serious behavioral problems, and no one wanted them. But then gay or lesbian people took these children into their homes and gave them stability and love that they had never known.

USA Today has a second story today about a family just like this--a gay couple in Ohio who adopted a special-needs child. One of the dads puts it well, "Nobody is stepping up to adopt…but they don’t want us to adopt them. Our prisons are full of people who were in foster care, and those people were in, quote unquote, straight family homes. If I can provide a loving, stable home for my little boy, that's the goal."

A few years ago, I helped produce and write LetHimStay.com, an online tool for the fight against Florida’s ban on adoption by gay people. Florida is the only state so far with an outright ban on adoption by any gay individual.

The website tells the story of a family from Florida who were threatened to be torn apart by the adoption ban. A couple, two pediatric nurses, took infants with HIV into their homes as foster kids at a time when no one believed they would live longer than one or two years. Those kids blossomed in their new home, and now they’re healthy, well-adjusted teenagers. (The cruel irony is that Florida trusts gay people to be foster parents but won't allow them to adopt.)

The website also has a good summary of existing social science research on gay parenting and information about the many respected child welfare organizations that oppose adoption bans and support recognition of same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, the Florida law, which was passed at the height of the Anita Bryant craze, is still on the books. But just last week Florida state lawmakers took the step of holding the first-ever hearing on a bill to repeal the law. The repeal is backed by adoption experts and child welfare organizations. The bill did not move forward, but Equality Florida is not giving up the fight.

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