Florida House bill would remove gay adoption ban from state law

Martin Gill (center) was the original plaintiff in a challenge brought in 2009 by the ACLU that led to a federal ruling stricking down Florida's ban on gay adoption. Gill and his partner had been raising two foster children since 2004, which they eventually adopted. AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Republican-dominated Florida House quietly acknowledged Wednesday that gay people have the right to adopt children when they supported a bill amendment that removes a gay adoption ban from state law.

Martin Gill (center) was the original plaintiff in a challenge brought in 2009 by the ACLU that led to a federal ruling stricking down Florida's ban on gay adoption. Gill and his partner had been raising two foster children since 2004, which they eventually adopted.AP (File)

Martin Gill (center) was the original plaintiff in a challenge brought in 2009 by the ACLU that led to a ruling striking down Florida’s ban on gay adoption. Gill and his partner had been raising two foster children since 2004, which they eventually adopted.

The vote came five years after an appeals court ruled that the state’s gay-adoption ban is unconstitutional. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist refused to appeal the decision.

While some Republicans voted against the bill amendment, none spoke out against it and it was quickly approved. It is part of a larger bill (HB 7013) that would create incentives to adopt children in state care.

“It’s an acknowledgement of different times. The language that was essentially repealed was put into statute in 1977,” said House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach. “Sometimes it’s about people and not about politics.”

The full bill still needs a House vote, but it has wide support. The Senate and Gov. Rick Scott would also have to approve the bill before the gay-adoption language is deleted from law.

Republican House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said the vote isn’t necessarily an endorsement of current policy that allows gays to adopt.

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“Philosophically, I’ve never really been there on that, but I’m somebody who operates under the letter of the law,” he said. “I recognize that this has been taking place for five years, so our bill is going to reflect that.”

Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala said there were conservative members who quietly said no when the amendment was passed on a voice vote.

“It’s a sad acknowledgement that we already lost in the courts on this discussion. I still think a mom and a dad are what kids need,” said Baxley. “A lot of us didn’t vote for that amendment today. It was a pretty weak no vote.”

Asked if he was one of the quiet no votes, Baxley said, “I was just quiet.”

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