Desperate to make up ground in the Republican primary for governor and with his conservative credentials under attack, Attorney General Bill McCollum has moved to the extreme. McCollum, who supports Florida's ban on gay residents adopting children, now says the state should be consistent and stop allowing gay adults to be foster parents. So he would remove children from loving and stable foster homes across the state because of a foster parent's sexual orientation. Public policy doesn't get much more mean-spirited or wrongheaded.
The Department of Children and Families does not keep count of the number of gay and lesbian foster parents, and it should not because there is no reason to do it. National figures indicate that gays and lesbians are raising 3 percent of all foster children. In Florida, many gay and lesbian foster parents provide excellent care for children who might otherwise be relegated to group homes. There never seem to be enough loving foster families. But McCollum's narrow-minded philosophy does not take this into account. "I really do not think that we should have homosexuals guiding our children," he told the Florida Baptist Witness, the newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
Martin Gill is a gay man who is a licensed foster parent. He is also the father at the center of the lawsuit challenging Florida's ban on gay adoption. Before the trial court cleared the way for him to adopt two half-brothers in 2008, Gill was a foster parent to the boys. They were placed with him in December 2004 because a child protective investigator told Gill the badly neglected boys "needed and deserved a good Christmas."
McCollum is fighting to undo this adoption with the state's appeal before the 3rd District Court of Appeal — an appeal pending since August 2009. Now McCollum is calling for gays and lesbians to be stripped of their foster care licenses if the state's ban on gay adoption is upheld. That would mean Gill's sons would be taken from their home and parents — an intentional destruction of a loving family.
This is the same case in which McCollum insisted that the state hire the discredited George Rekers as an expert witness to testify against allowing gay parents to adopt. Rekers, who was paid $120,000, later hired a male escort from Rentboy.com for an overseas trip. If this hypocrisy isn't glaring enough, Rekers is an adoptive father.
The state had trouble finding anyone else with academic credentials to testify for Florida's ban because virtually the entire medical, psychiatric, social work and social science community disagrees with it. Research indicates unequivocally that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as healthy and well adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents.
Yet if McCollum becomes governor and wins a wrongheaded court appeal to uphold the gay adoption ban, he is promising to disregard social science, use his personal biases as a basis for public policy and ban gay adults from being foster parents. He is headed in the wrong direction, and Florida's children would suffer as a result.