- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An Arizona adoption bill that gives “priority” to married couples has set off protests about discrimination against homosexual and single parents.

The legislation, which has passed the Arizona House and is nearing a vote in the state Senate, is intended to get more abused, neglected and abandoned children into married, two-parent homes.

“All this says is, all other things being equal, if a married couple is willing to adopt, they ought to be given preference,” Rep. Steve Tully, a lead sponsor of House Bill 2696, told the East Valley Tribune of Phoenix this week.

The bill gives married couples “priority” over single people in adoption, except in certain circumstances. For instance, a single person can be favored over a married couple if he or she is a legal relative or has a “meaningful and healthy relationship” with the child. Singles also can be preferred if the child’s parent wants the single person to adopt, if the child’s best interests “require” adoption by a single person or if the alternative for the child is long-term foster care.

The Arizona Human Rights Fund, which advocates for homosexual rights, condemned the legislation as “a shady attempt to undermine our rights to adopt.”

The Arizona bill is part of a growing showdown over adoption rights.

Earlier this month, the Vatican issued a directive saying that Catholic services may not place children for adoption with homosexuals.

Catholic Charities of Boston quickly announced it would not renew its adoption contract with Massachusetts because state law says homosexuals must be allowed to adopt.

In San Francisco, Archbishop George Niederauer said his city’s Catholic Charities is “reviewing” its adoption programs as well.

Most states allow homosexuals to be foster or adoptive parents. Florida is the only state to forbid any homosexuals to adopt; Mississippi and Utah do not allow homosexual couples to adopt.

Conversely, while Utah’s adoption code gives preference to prospective parents who are married, five states — Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — forbid adoption agencies to favor married couples in placement decisions, according to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (IMAPP).

A recent study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute says homosexuals are a “new pool” of prospective parents for needy children and should be welcomed by child-welfare systems.

However, social science also finds that children’s well-being is tied to family structure.

“[N]o other family structure has been found to benefit children as much as a family headed by the child’s biological parents in a low-conflict marriage,” IMAPP says. In adoptions, it adds, “the best interests of an adoptive child are normally served by placing the child with a married mother and father.”

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