Friday, October 12, 2007

New Push To Ban Gay Adoption In Tennessee

by Newscenter Staff

(Nashville, Tennessee) Socially conservative groups behind Tennessee's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage are looking at launching a new push to bar gays and lesbians from adopting children. The move follows a legal opinion issued Thursday by Attorney General Bob Cooper that there is nothing in the Tennessee constitution or in state law to prevent same-sex couples from becoming adoptive parents. Cooper had been asked for the legal assessment by Wilson County Circuit Judge Clara Byrd.

Although Byrd has not said why she asked for the opinion it has been generally assumed she is presiding over an adoption application by either a gay person or a same-sex couple. Adoption cases are sealed to protect the rights of children. Cooper in his legal opinion said that under current state law anyone 18 years of age or older may adopt, assuming the adoption is found to be in the best interest of the child."

"There is no prohibition in Tennessee statutes against adoption by a same sex couple,"he said. He also noted that before a judge grants an adoption there must be a
finding that the adoptive parents "are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child." An attempt to pass legislation banning gays from adopting failed in
2005. The legislation would have barred gays and lesbians from adopting or becoming foster parents to the thousands of children in state orphanages and foster care.
Supporters of the measure said the children would be better off remaining in orphanages than being with a gay parent. The bill was later amended to say only that married couples should be given priority in adoptions. It died in committee.
There were more than nine-thousand in state custody as of Jan. 31. Last year slightly over one-thousand children in state custody were adopted.


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