Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Few have the courage to fight gay adoption ban

For 31 years, Florida has barred gays from adopting children — the only state with such a blanket prohibition.

On May 11, 1977, the day the state Senate passed the law, freshman Sen. Don Chamberlin of Clearwater asked his colleagues: "Will we sleep better knowing we have institutionalized shame for those who have already felt shame?

"Is there sufficient justification to deny one child — one parent — the joy of being a family?" he asked.

Other senators praised his courage, but only four voted with him: Betty Castor of Tampa, Jack Gordon, Kenneth Myers and Lori Wilson.

Chamberlin could give the same speech to the Senate tomorrow, and the result likely would be the same.

Every year, when a bill is filed to repeal the ban, opposition mobilizes. When Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, indicated a willingness to hear the bill in 2006, he was targeted with e-mail from the Christian Family Coalition, warning about "homosexual extremists."

Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, will file the bill again.

"We need to get rid of it," Rich said. "However it gets done, we need to protect children."

Tuesday in Miami, a judge ruled the law unconstitutional after child psychologists and other experts testified that no scientific basis exists to justify a ban on gay adoptions.

"Sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent."

Martin Gill and his partner in North Miami are raising two brothers, 4 and 8, who have been foster children since 2004. Gays can be foster parents, but can't adopt children in their care.

The state will appeal the judge's decision, which means a showdown before a rapidly changing state Supreme Court. Gov. Charlie Crist has appointed two socially conservative justices, and will have two more openings soon.

If this case reaches the high court, it will be a key test of its philosophical orientation.

Appealing the ruling under Crist is the Department of Children and Families, led by George Sheldon, a lifelong Democrat from Tampa who supported equal rights for gays and lesbians as a state legislator in the 1980s.

Crist said in March that the best place for a child is a "traditional family," and he's the leader of a state where 63 percent of voters have just defined marriage in the state Constitution as only between a man and a woman.

The day before the Miami decision came down, Crist took part in a joyous ceremony noting the rise in adoptions of foster children over the past year.

Crist, a self-proclaimed "live and let live" Republican, hired a child advocate, Jim Kallinger. They launched a media campaign to promote adoption, especially for the children hardest to place — older kids, siblings and children with disabilities or medical problems.

So it follows that the governor would take a keen interest in the Miami case and its implications. He has not yet commented on the decision.

In brief remarks at the adoption ceremony, Crist spoke of the value of giving foster children "a nurturing upbringing, I don't know what could be more important than that."

That's all Martin Gill said he wants for those two boys.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

Few have the courage to fight gay adoption ban 11/28/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 29, 2008 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  2. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House


    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  3. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  4. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty


    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.

  5. Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign, report says


    Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports.

    Paul Manafort, then Donald Trump's campaign chairman, talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. [Associated Press]