Battle lines are being drawn in the second front of the culture wars in the U.S., as drives get underway in 16 states to ban adoption by gays and lesbians through ballot inititiatives in the November general elections.
“Now that we’ve defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship,” Greg Quinlan of Ohio’s Pro-Family Network told USA Today.
Ohio was one of 11 states where constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were approved by voters in the 2004 general election.
Lesbian entertainer Rosie O’Donnell drew attention several years ago with her efforts to overturn Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians.
The law has been in effect in Florida since 1977, although a measure pending in the legislature there would allow judges to grant exceptions.
Gays and lesbians are allowed to be foster parents in Florida.
Mississippi bans adoption by gay couples, but gay and lesbian singles can adopt.
Utah bans all unmarried couples, regardless of sexual orientation, from adoption.
Bills to restrict gay adoption are in the works in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
Five of those states also are discussing ballot initiatives.
In Massachusetts, Roman Catholic bishops are asking for an exemption from state anti-discrimination laws to allow the church to ban gays and lesbians from adopting through its social service agencies.
GLBT Texans have already fought measures to prohibit gays and lesbians from being adoptive or foster parents in several consecutive sessions of the Legislature.
Each time, efforts spearheaded primarily by Representative Robert Talton, a Republican of Pasadena, have been defeated, usually bottled up in committee by Democrats.
Patrick Guerriero, president of Log Cabin Republicans, told USA Today the adoption bans are the part of an overall conservative strategy to stymie GLBT rights.
“The game plan was first to go to states where it was easy to pass anti-marriage amendments and then launch a second round of attacks on gay adoption,” he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.