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Lawmaker: Chambers could deal on gay adoption vote

A House Republican leader said he would consider lifting or modifying the state's 30-year-old ban on gay adoptions, but only if the Senate takes similar action.

Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he would schedule a vote on a bill allowing gay foster parents to adopt children already in their care, but only if companion legislation surfaces in the Senate, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Tuesday. Galvano chairs the House's Future of Florida's Families Committee.

Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, introduced a similar bill this month, but postponed the legislation indefinitely when it became clear in committee discussion that it would not survive a first vote. Rich said she is working with foster parents and children's advocates who testified at that meeting to persuade lawmakers to reconsider.

Galvano said he will not put similar legislation introduced in the House on his committee's agenda until the Senate bill gets stronger.

"If the bill should come back and start moving in the Senate, then you're looking at a bill that really has a life," he said.

Rep. Sheri McInvale, R-Orlando, sponsor of the House bill, said she is working to get the support that will make a hearing worthwhile.

Rich said she wants the House to move on the bill without waiting for further Senate action.

"I feel the Senate has taken the first step, and the House needs to move ahead and take a first step there," she said.

Moving the bill out of a first committee would be a satisfactory finish line this year, Rich said. "Sometimes it takes several years for a good, new or controversial idea to move forward. This bill is not dead."

Supporters say allowing gay adoptions would eliminate inconsistency in Florida's adoption policy and increase the number of homes available to children.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoptions, although Mississippi and Utah have laws that restrict them. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not gay singles, from adopting, and Utah requires adopting parents to be married.

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