TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - The Florida Senate sent Governor Rick Scott a bill Tuesday repealing the state’s 1977 ban on adoptions by gay parents that was struck down by an appeals court in 2010.
The ban, which was imposed at the height of a campaign by singer Anita Bryant that revoked a gay-rights ordinance in Miami, has been unenforceable since the court ruled against it. However, the language remained in the statute and some legislators objected to removing it.
The Republican-controlled legislature included the repeal language in a large package providing financial incentives for state employees adopting children.
“This bill does some very good things, but there is a poison pill in this bill that will not allow me to vote for it,” Senator Alan Hays, a Republican, said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Tom Lee, also a Republican, said the adoption bill was “hijacked” by gay-rights supporters. He added repealing the ban should have been handled in separate legislation.
Lee also urged adoption of a House-passed “conscience protection” bill, passed last week, which would allow private adoption agencies to refuse child placement with same-sex couples. The bill has no Senate companion legislation and Lee said it appears “headed for a ditch” in the last three weeks of the legislative session.
Senator Don Gaetz, the Niceville Republican who sponsored the adoption incentives, said there are 852 children in foster care, available for adoption.
He saw no moral conflict in following the law as it stands now, adding there was no point in keeping the provision in the statute.
“I ask you today, follow the law,” he said. “Follow the law that says we don’t discriminate. Follow the law that says we’re going to give those 852 children the best life we can.”
Scott, a Republican, has not indicated whether he will sign the bill into law.
Editing by David Adams and Lisa Lambert