In a bipartisan vote, the Florida Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill designed to help more foster children find permanent homes. The bill also removes an outdated and unconstitutional ban on gays and lesbians adopting children.
Former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, spoke eloquently in urging his colleagues not to be swayed by objections that the measure might go against the religious principles of some private, taxpayer-supported adoption agencies.
Gaetz, a Lutheran, noted that his denomination placed 183 children in adoptive homes last year and did not discriminate against gay or lesbian parents. That’s “more than three times as many” as the Baptist and Catholic agencies that say they do not want to place children in gay or lesbian homes, he said.
“So I ask you today to follow the law. Follow the law that says we don’t discriminate. Follow the law that says we’re going to give these (children waiting for adoption) the best chance we can.”
The bill, having already been approved by the House of Representatives, now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.
“While it has been legal for gays and lesbians to adopt in Florida for several years, this symbolic action would finally move our state past its Anita Bryant era of discrimination and intolerance,” said Equality Florida chief executive Nadine Smith. “We urge the governor to do what’s best for all children and all families and sign this bill into law.”