Louisiana Senate Judiciary Rejects Gay Adoption Expansion Bill
After hours of passionate testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, the Louisiana Senate rejected a bill which proposed expansion of gay adoption, in a vote of 3-1.
Senate Bill 129, fused two measures by Sens. Ed Murray and J.P. Morrell, and proposed to allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt and allow an existing parent to petition a court to add a second adult as a legal parent. Although the bill did not specifically site sexual orientation as a determining trait, the debate centered on gay couples and gay adoption.
Louisiana law restricts adoption to married couples or single individuals.
The gay rights advocacy group Forum for Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow, and adoptive parents argued against the Louisiana Family Forum, the Conference of Catholic Bishops and representatives of Louisiana Southern Baptists.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's office also registered the state Governor's opposition to the bill.
Kelly Bryson of New Orleans asked lawmakers to approve the bill so that she and her partner, Erika Knott, can "complete our family." Bryson and Knott gained custody of a Louisiana foster child, William, before Hurricane Katrina. Knott adopted the boy in Louisiana. With the couple living in Maryland immediately after the storm, Bryson successfully petitioned for a second parent adoption. Knott has since adopted, again in Louisiana, William's biological brother Jeremy.
Without a legal relationship, health decisions cannot be made by an acting parent for a child.
Gay advocates believe adoption expansion is pro-family. A representative of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, conversely, called the bill a "back door attempt to enshrine gay unions". The largely religious bloc was the main opposition to the bill.
The Rev. Louis Husser of Crossgate Church in Robert said, "This bill is nothing more than social experimentation using our children as guinea pigs."
Co-author of the bill, LA Senator JP Morrell rebuked some of the opponents for their testimony which made reference to a gay father who had sexually abused one of his adoptive children.
Voting Count :
- Against the measure:Sens. Don Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, Jack Donahue, R-Covington and Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe.
- Senator Ed Murray was the lone "yes" vote.
- Only Murray and Claitor asked questions during the hearing.
- Chairwoman Julie Quinn, R-Metairie, did not vote.
- Democrats Rob Marionneaux of Livonia and Nick Gautreaux of Abbeville skipped the meeting.