Why Florida Must Repeal the Adoption Ban
Equality Florida recently received an email from a supporter who wondered why we spend so much time and effort trying to repeal Florida's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian prospective parents. Especially, they said, in light of the lack of interest among the LGBT community. The answer follows:
Thank you for touching base about the adoption issue. I don't know if you saw the media coverage on the Senate Hearing recently held in South Florida, but over 300 people showed up in Miami alone to encourage the Senators to repeal the adoption ban. Additional hearing were held in Tampa and Tallahassee, with excellent turnouts as well.
While I disagree that folks are generally not interested in the issue, I respect your anecdotal evidence. What is perhaps most important to understand is that Equality Florida does not select the issues we work on based on their popularity, but rather on their importance.
Florida's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian people, who are otherwise well qualified to be parents, is institutionalized discrimination against our community born out of the Anita Bryant hysteria of the 70's. The ban hurts 4,000+ children in state custody who want nothing more than to be adopted by a loving family. It also hurts LGBT families in which one parent is the biological parent the the other is a "legal stranger" to their own child. Finally, the ban marginalizes all LGBT people - with or without children - because it is based on the prejudiced notion that LGBT people are not capable of being good parents or, worse, are dangerous to children. The ban must be repealed in order for LGBT Floridians to fully participate as citizens.
We find that many members of the LGBT community become more concerned about this issue when they understand that, even if they never want to adopt, this law represents Florida's three-decade-old condemnation of all gay people. Anita Bryant's campaign was called "Save Our Children" and painted LGBT people as a menace to society and a danger to children. The continued existence of this law implies that Florida, as a state, still holds this belief. While nauseating to many fair-minded citizens, this symbolism is also why so many extremists are will to spend enormous resources to protect it.
I hope this explanation begins to help you understand why Equality Florida has included repealing the adoption ban as one of our top legislative priorities, along with passing a Safe Schools bill that protects LGBT students, passing a statewide non-discrimination bill, creating statewide domestic partner benefits, etc. I also hope you will share some of this information with the people you encounter on a regular basis, so they too can understand the importance of this issue to all Floridian.