Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday told the audience at a right-wing presidential forum in Iowa that same-sex couples are barred from adopting children in Texas, according to On Top Magazine.
But Perry’s statement was at best misleading and, at worst, an outright lie designed to pander to socially conservative voters.
At the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Perry and other presidential candidates were asked what they would do to help faith-based adoption agencies “which are being run out of business because they will only place children in homes headed by mothers and fathers and they will not place those children in homes headed by same-sex couples.”
Perry responded: “Obviously I think it is an issue you can address at the federal level, and passing a federal marriage amendment is one of the ways to do that, but until that does pass, as in the state of Texas, a gay couple cannot adopt a child in the state of Texas, so the states have the ability again, until there is a federal marriage amendment that clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman and in that as well you cannot adopt a child unless it is one man and one woman.”
Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said in most jurisdictions in Texas, it’s true that gay couples can’t adopt “as a couple” due to the state’s defense of marriage act. However, in most jurisdictions, gay couples can adopt the a child separately, which is effectively the same thing, Smith said.
Unlike in states such as Utah and, until recently, Florida, Texas has no ban on gay adoption, Smith said. And, a non-biological mother who is the lesbian partner of a biological mother can typically obtain a second-parent adoption in Texas, Smith said.
“It’s not black and white,” he said. “It’s factually inaccurate to say there’s a ban on gay people adopting. It is a function of which family law judge people go to, but in virtually all jurisdictions, gay couples can adopt. Unfortunately they’re required to do it in two separate transactions, where each individual person has an adoption transaction. It’s also true that under the current statute, the supplemental birth certificate of an adopted child only has one parent’s name on it if the parents are of the same gender. That’s something we’ve been trying to change and will continue to try and change.”
Smith said while Texas legislators unsuccessfully attempted to ban gay foster-parenting in 2005, there has never been a bill to ban gay adoption.
“I think it was an attempt at a bravado comment — ‘In Texas, we don’t let the gays do anything’ — that was kind of the point,” Smith said, adding he thinks the entire forum was “an exercise in pandering” for all the candidates.
“What they’re attempting to do is to make something controversial that’s only controversial in their little mind-sphere,” Smith said. “There’s over 30 years of longitudinal studies that show sexual orientation is not a determining factor in whether a person is or is not a good parent. They’re trying to say that gay people can’t be good parents. There simply is not evidence to speak to that.”
Watch video of Perry’s response below.