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Florida House approves bill that would remove gay adoption ban from state law

Florida House approves bill that would remove gay adoption ban from state law
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill that would create incentives to adopt children in state care passed the House on Wednesday on a vote made much closer because of opposition from conservative Republicans who don’t want gay couples to adopt children despite an appeals court ruling five years ago that said they can.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.
Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

The bill strips language from state law that bans gay people from adopting children – a practice that has been allowed since the law was found unconstitutional in 2010.

It passed on a 68-50 vote with conservative Republicans joining some Democrats who opposed the bill for other reasons, including a provision that would allow foster children to be home-schooled.

Many of the Republican “no” votes came from the party’s most conservative members.

But other Republicans said the important part of the bill is helping kids find homes and that they weren’t bothered by the gay adoption issue.

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Among those was Republican Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami, the target of criticism from gay and transgender groups for a bill he is sponsoring that would ban transgender people from using public bathrooms assigned to the gender they identify with.

Artiles said same-sex couples should be able to know the joy of parenthood and children should be allowed the opportunity to be in a stable, loving home. He said the ban was wrong.

“I am not a homophobe. I am not a transphobe. I am a father,” Artiles said.

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The gay adoption ban hasn’t been enforced since the 2010 appeals court ruling. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist didn’t appeal the ruling, so the issue never came before the state Supreme Court.

Some gay adoption opponents contend the issue could be revisited if it ever came before a different district appeals court and it issued a conflicting ruling.

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That’s the hope of the Florida Family Policy Council, a group that opposes gay rights. It sent its supporters an “extremely urgent action alert” asking them to contact lawmakers and urge them to vote against the bill (HB 7013).

Republican House Speaker Steve Crisafulli told reporters after the vote that the gay-adoption issue likely cost the measure some votes, but he pointed out the purpose of the bill was to help hundreds of children find homes, not gay adoption.

“The courts have decided that for us. That’s been in practice for five years now so basically we codified that and have a bill now that actually does not address gay adoption. It’s just silent on the issue,” he said.

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