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Earth Notes

Straight vs. Gay Adoption

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – Current law generally requires the state to consider
only the best interests of the child. This measure
would spell out in statute that, everything else being
equal, couples should get first crack. Sen. Robert
Blendu said that makes sense.

(I think that a loving mother and a loving father is
the optimal for an adopted child and a natural child. I
don't think there's a replacement for that. And I think
every study and every fact points that out.)

But Sen. Robert Cannell said that's not the case,
citing a study by the Journal of Pediatrics which
compared children placed in homes with married couples
versus those placed with unmarried gays.

(The children in the gay homes did every bit as well as
the children in the heterosexual homes. There was no
increased incidence of homosexuality in those children.
It was the same as every other child.)

Cannell said later that he believes that homophobia is
playing a role in the legislation and that at least one
reason some people are backing the bill is because they
don't want gays to adopt. But Ron Johnson who lobbies
on behalf of the state's three Catholic bishops, who
support the legislation, said that's not the case. He
pointed out that the measure does contain exceptions --
and does not specifically ban gays from adopting. For
example, a single person who is a relative of the child
would not get second preference to a married couple,
regardless of the person's sexual orientation. Married
couples also would not get favoritism if there already
is a -- quote -- meaningful and healthy -- unquote --
relationship between a single prospective adoptive
parent and the child. And the marital status or even
sexual orientation of the adoptive parent would be
irrelevant if the the alternative to placing the
youngster with a single parent would be extended foster
care. The legislation also contains a catch-all
provision to deal with situations where a child's --
quote -- best interests require adoption by a single
parent. That was explained during committee hearings to
include situations where a child may have been molested
and has no trust of men. So Johnson said this should
not be seen as an attack on gays.

(If someone's an aunt and whetever their attraction is
that's really not going to factor into this. Ideally it
should be a man and a woman, a mother and father, that
we should be striving for. But there are exceptions.)

And Sen. Karen Johnson, who ushered the bill through
the Senate, said she does not see this as an anti-gay
measure. Johnson said backers simply are what she
called family oriented.

(That's how I perceive the bill as to be looking out
for the best needs of the child, which would be in an
intact family with a husband and a wife.)

But some other legislators said if the state insists on
providing a preference in this one area, then maybe
there should be other preferences. Sen. Jorge Garcia,
for example, offered up one amendment that said
preference should be given to adoptive parents who are
of the same ethnic background as the child. That was
defeated. Sen. Rebecca Rios had no better luck with her
proposal that preference be given to couples who have
never been married and divorced before. She pointed out
that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce.

(But when you're talking about people that have
previous marriages that divorce rate goes up to about
66 percent. If we truly want to ensure that children
stay in homes, in two parent homes that provide
consistency and continuity for the children we should
vote to accept this amendment.)

But Johnson, who had been divorced several times, said
that should not be added to the legislation. The
meausre now needs a final roll call vote. In Phoenix,
for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.