Thursday, May 26, 2011

Louisiana House rejects gay adoption proposal

A bill to allow homosexual couples in Louisiana to adopt children has failed, due in part to opposition from the state's Catholics.

“The best interest of the child extends beyond purely the physical and the material,” said Rob Tasman, assistant director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a May 24 statement provided to EWTN News, he said society also had to look out for “the spiritual and the moral” aspects of child-rearing.

Tasman pointed out that “adoption law dictates that placements turn on the best interest of the child,” rather than the “rights, interest, or desires of prospective parents.”

It is also for these reasons that within the state of Louisiana, Catholic Charities adoption agencies “do not permit a single individual to adopt,” he noted. “Instead, only heterosexual married couples are permitted to adopt.”

Although the bill also failed to pass last year, some state representatives believed public opinion had changed to favor its re-introduction. On May 23, however, the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee shelved the proposal again, at the suggestion of Republican Representative John Schroder.

Louisiana's current law allows unmarried individuals in homosexual relationships to adopt children, but only in their capacity as individuals. It does not allow for two adoptive same-sex “parents” to act as legal guardians, as the bill would have permitted.

Advocates of gay adoption say the current practice causes problems if a separation or emergency leaves only the non-guardian “parent” to care for the child. New Orleans City Councilman Arnie Fielkow said during the debate that the idea of the “traditional family” was outdated, and should give way to the reality of other arrangements.

But Tasman and many others see serious danger in redefining the family as any collection of individuals who choose to live together. They believe adopted children should not be placed in “households” defined only by informal consent.

Gene Mills, head of the Louisiana Family Forum, said the proposal to give adopted children two same-sex “parents” as legal guardians would be “fraught with the possibility of instability in the life of the child.” Mills also believes the bill would have gone against a state constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage.”

Marjorie Esman, who leads the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana, believes that a court ruling could eventually accomplish what advocates of homosexual adoption failed to achieve in the legislature, by allowing two same-sex individuals to serve as legal guardians of a child.

There is, however, no currently pending case that could lead to this outcome in Louisiana

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