Don't eliminate all gay adopters
EDITORIAL, montgomeryadvertiser.com from the Web, March 25, 2005
Montgomery, AL -- A bill pending in the Alabama Legislature to stop individual gay Alabamians from adopting children is wrongheaded, and it should be considered wrongheaded by both those who believe in gay rights and those who do not.
The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Hank Erwin Jr., R-Montevallo, argues that it is needed as a matter of consistency.
"If we are going to say we are a family-friendly state with traditional family values, then we need to have traditional family adoption policies," Erwin said.
In response to his call for consistency, we refer Erwin to a well-known quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that seems entirely on point:
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
It's also scary. If Erwin succeeds in making gays second-class citizens when it comes to adoptions, what is his next step in the name of consistency?
Banning them from holding certain jobs? Will he let them continue to be loving uncles or aunts?
The sad fact is that Alabama, like most states, has hundreds more kids in need of adoption than it has people willing to adopt them.
There just aren't enough "traditional families" willing to adopt.
Gay couples cannot adopt in Alabama because the state does not recognize gay marriages.
But gay individuals can if they meet the same standards as their non-gay counterparts.
The office of adoption for the Alabama Department of Human Resources said that last month the state had 641 children awaiting adoption, with 272 with no potential adopter or adopters under consideration.
There are practical problems with Erwin's proposal. For instance, some adoptions by gay individuals occur when parents designate those individuals to raise their children in case the parents die.
Howard Bayless, who is gay, said his sisters have asked him to raise their children if something happens to them.
Surely Erwin would not want Big Government to intrude into such family matters.
But his legislation would make adoptions impossible even in such cases.
"The government does not need to dictate to us what a family should be made of and what a family should look like," Bayless said.
If Erwin is so concerned about consistency, perhaps he should consider the inconsistency exhibited by some groups that promote adoption as an alternative to abortion while also seeking to eliminate some people as potential adopters when there aren't enough of them to meet the need in the first place.
A spokesman for adoptive services at DHR said the agency does not keep records on the sexual orientation of prospective adopters, but that he does "know of gay individuals who have adopted and are able to provide a very good home to children."
When there already is a dramatic shortage of people willing to adopt, the Legislature should not get into the business of eliminating people who are willing and able to provide good homes for children who need them.