Florida poised to repeal 38-year-old ban on gay adoption

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Updated: 8:00 p.m. EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is poised to repeal its nearly 40-year-old ban on gay adoption.

The Florida Senate on Wednesday gave tentative approval to a comprehensive bill that would create incentives to adopt children in state care, and in a stunning turnaround, blocked efforts to amend the bill to allow agencies to refuse adoptions by same-sex couples on religious or moral grounds.

The legislation (HB 7013) strips language from state law that bans gay people from adopting children. The law was found unconstitutional in 2010 but some legislators opposed removing it from law.

A separate bill (HB 7111) that would also allow agencies to refuse same-sex couple adoptions based on religious beliefs is pending in the House and has not yet been considered in the Senate.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, tried unsuccessfully to keep the ban intact. She said she was concerned that faith-based adoption agencies will leave the state if the law is changed.

But Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Destin), the bill’s sponsor, called the ban “meaningless.”

The Florida House already voted to end the ban.

The Senate action came just minutes after the Florida House voted overwhelmingly to allow taxpayer-funded private adoption agencies to cite religious beliefs to turn away gay people and others.

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Gaetz remarked, “We don’t need to turn back the social clock in this state to 1977,” referring to the year Florida banned gays and lesbians from adopting children.

“We applaud Senator Gaetz for rallying his colleagues to stop this disastrous effort to put discrimination back into Florida law.” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “Now is not the time for Florida to look back to its ugly past. It is time to secure full equality and chart a fair and inclusive path for our state.”

The bill has one more reading in the Senate; if passed as expected it will be sent to the Governor.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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