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Same-Sex Adoption Ban Stalled in Florida Senate

Adopting a child is one of the most complicated and heartwarming ways to expand your family. Adoptions in Florida include adoptions within and outside the immediate family. The Florida legislature, however, recently threatened to limit the rights of gay couples seeking to adopt children. The bill, entitled “Conscience Protection for Actions of Private Child-Placing Agencies,” passed the Florida House in April 2015, and was tabled by the Senate at the end of the month, meaning it has not advanced passed the Senate to become law.

How Does Florida Oversee Adoption Agencies?

Adoption agencies in Florida must have a valid Florida License issued by the Department of Children and Family Services to operate and receive state funding. Unless an agency has this license or is a registered child-caring agency (foster care), they are not allowed to place children up for adoption. These agencies can either be state or privately owned, so long as they follow the procedures established in the adoption statute.

Currently, Department of Children and Family services is allowed to revoke the license and refuse funding of any adoption agency that refuses to let a gay couple adopt a child on religious or moral grounds. This position is supported by the Senate’s recent elimination of the gay adoption ban in addition to the 3rd District Court of Appeal’s running that such a ban is unconstitutional.

What Are the Arguments Surrounding the Bill?

Proponents of the bill argued this law was necessary to keep faith-based adoption agencies, which do not allow gay couples to adopt because of their religious belief, open for business. The bill’s sponsor advocated that the state should not be allowed to discriminate based on the agency’s religious beliefs and that there was no harm to gay couples who would still have state-based adoption agencies available to them.

Opponents argue, including representatives of the Family Section of the Florida Bar, that the bill violates the equal protection clauses of both the United States and Florida Constitutions. Other opponents have noted that the passage of this bill could also threaten federal funding of these state programs because of these violations.

What is “Equal Protection?”

The equal protections provisions of both constitutions state that no state shall deny any individual in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. Over the years, this has been interpreted to mean that the state must treat one person in the same way they would treat another person in similar conditions and circumstances.

Generally, a law involves equal protection violations when the state allows one class of individuals to engage in an activity, but forbids another class of people from doing the same thing. For example, a law would violate the equal protection clause if it prohibited one individual from entering into a particular contract because she is a woman, but that contract would not be prohibited if that individual were a man. However, the rules in place to resolve equal protection claims are not uniform and ever changing.

What Do I do if My Partner and I are trying to Adopt?

The experienced Tampa Florida adoption attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A. can help you begin, continue, or finalize your same-sex adoption. Contact us today at 813-816-2232 for a free consultation to learn how our Tampa adoption lawyers can help guide you through this difficult and exciting process.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group (Lynette Silon-Laguna, P.A.) provides legal services to the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Lakeland, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Thonotosassa, Lutz, FishHawk, MacDill Air Force Base, and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas & Polk Counties.

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