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Gay adoption.

It would be greatly appreciated if those in favor of gay and lesbian adoption would desist from labeling those opposed as "bigots." To quote an earlier letter writer, "These words do absolutely nothing to enhance or elevate our profession.... "

If I am offended by anything in this debate, it is the idea that because I do not favor the one true side, I am "unenlightened." This is the crux of the problem, i.e., good people can and do strongly disagree, and it therefore should not be made to appear to the public that the membership of the Bar is united in their views on this political question. I do not care where the money comes from--don't try to dress the issue in Bar clothes to make it appear to the public that we all agree.

Howard T. Sutter Jacksonville

I have been following with interest the debate regarding approval of the lobbying positions taken by the Family Law Section and the Public Interest Law Section on the issue of Florida's statutory ban on gay adoption.

Floridians know me as a staunch advocate for children, especially children caught up in the child welfare system. I retain that passion now as a law professor at the University of Memphis School of Law. I also continue to represent the two child plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, Lotion v. Regier, which Challenges Florida's gay adoption ban on constitutional grounds. In that case, six dissenting judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, on a petition for rehearing en banc, agreed that there is a serious and substantial question as to whether Florida's statute is constitutional. A seventh judge, the author of the opinion, remarked that if he were a legislator, rather than a judge, he would "vote in favor of considering otherwise eligible homosexuals for adoptive parenthood."

To me, there is no reasonable basis for Florida to maintain thousands of children in state custody on an adoption waiting list without permanent homes, while the state ignores the stable, nurturing homes that many gay and lesbian people might provide them. Even the Child Welfare League of America supports nondiscrimination against homosexuals who seek to adopt, and finds no child welfare basis for the gay adoption ban. I have represented hundreds of children in Florida's and now Tennessee's juvenile courts, who have been horribly abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or caretakers. In each case the parent has been heterosexual. I know, however, that bald arguments do not change minds or hearts. It takes personal experience, which, for me, has been catalytic in my views about gay parenting.

Over the eight-year history of the lawsuit, I have come to know the dedication, skill, warmth, and caring with which the gay dads of my two child clients have raised their little charges, almost since birth. One set of dads, skilled health care professionals, took in four young children affected by AIDS or HIV as foster children at the behest of the Children's Home Society. One of these, my client, "came home," as his dads call it, at the age of 16 weeks. They nurtured him to be the happy, healthy 12-year-old he now is. One of the children died of AIDS in the arms of these dads. The other two, the beneficiaries of the quality health care they provided, are also thriving. My other young client was taken home from the hospital at age four by the gentleman who was his pediatric nurse, at the request of the child's birth father. He is also happy, healthy, and thriving.

Closer to home, I, myself, am the honorary "aunt" of an eight-year-old, who is being raised by his two gay dads and two lesbian moms. He is an exceptionally good student, reads and does math on at least a fifth-grade level, takes tae kwan do lessons, plays soccer and the piano, too. He is exuberant, full of himself, and the light of my life. All of his successes attest to the quality parenting he is receiving.

I believe that the "divisiveness" over this issue among Bar members would disappear if they looked within their families, among their clients and around their law firms, their faith communities, their neighborhoods, and their children's schools. There they will find many fine examples of quality gay parenting, or many fine gay individuals who would love to become adoptive parents. It is this personal connection that changes minds and hearts.

Allowing equal access to the benefits of adoption to all Floridians, regardless of sexual orientation, is simply a matter of respecting the dignity and humanity of each individual. The U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas has already recognized the inherent dignity of gay individuals to make personal choices, and it is time for The Florida Bar to do so as well.

Christina A. Zawisza Memphis, TN

I find it very disturbing that those who support gay adoptions in the state of Florida are called unbiased and enlightened and while those of us who do not support gay adoptions are "bigots." Why would we put children who already suffered abuse or suffered the loss of parents into the hands of people who flaunt good sexual morality? As I would not want a child placed in a home where the husband or the wife was committing adultery, in the same way I think it would be damaging to children to place them in a home where sexual immorality is displayed as good, healthy, and life-giving. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We can debate all day long about how "enlightened" the homosexual agenda is, but the long and short of it is that homosexual behavior leads to the destruction of the human mind, body, and spirit. Doctors' offices are not filled with faithful husbands and wives begging the system for more antibiotics to cure the sexually transmitted diseases they have acquired. One need only read books such as And The Band Played On by Randy Schilts to understand what the homosexual lifestyle is and what it is not. What it is is a lifestyle that glorifies the hedonistic desires of a very small minority in our society. To place a child in the midst of this culture of death is truly frightening and should be avoided at all costs.

Don Detky Jacksonville

It is ludicrous to continue to harm our children and our society with our social experiments. Studies show that both female and male children need to be raised by both a mother and father to gain healthy self-images and self-confidence.

Both female and male children develop their gender identification and healthy sense of self-worth only when they are raised in a home with a healthy female role model and a healthy male role model. Our experiment with no-fault divorce has already demonstrated that most children suffer in single-parent and step-parent home situations, why would we continue to subject our children to home situations that do not promote the emotional well-being of our children? why would we want to adopt policies that produce emotionally damaged and emotional unstable future adults?

Studies conducted by both non-gay and gay organizations have shown that gay relationships have higher incidences of violence, mental illness, and substance abuse than heterosexual relationships.

Opposing gay adoptions is not a matter of discrimination; it is a matter of doing what is best for children and for oar society.

Rebecca O'Dell Townsend Tampa
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Sutter, Howard T.; Zawisza, Christina A.; Detky, Don; Townsend, Rebecca O'Dell
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Oct 15, 2004
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