By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In keeping with mountains of evidence that children fare best when raised in households headed by a married man and woman, lawmakers in Arizona have introduced a bill that will give preference to married couples in adoption cases.
According to the Arizona Republic, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Warde Nichols, would require that a married couple be given “primary consideration” in an adoption and would allow a single person to be considered only if a qualified married couple is not available or if the single person is a relative of, or already in a “meaningful and healthy relationship,” with the child.
“We’re not going to be leaving children in the system because we’re waiting for a married couple. That’s not the intent of the bill,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative family group that is backing the bill. “It simply says, all things being equal, a child deserves a chance to have a mom and a dad.”
Currently, about a third of the state’s annual adoptions are made to single parents. For instance, from April to September 2009, of the 892 state adoptions that took place, 266 involved single parents.
Because Rep. Nichols was the primary sponsor of legislation that led to Arizona voters defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman in 2008, opponents of the adoption bill have accused him of introducing it as a step toward banning homosexual couples.
Rep. Nichols denies this accusation. “I’ve never backed away from a fight that I believed in,” he told the Arizona Republic. “If it was my goal to keep homosexuals from adopting, I would have put it in the bill.”
Arizona Sen. Jack Harper has introduced a bill to prevent homosexuals from adopting. It has yet to be given a hearing.
Currently, the states of Utah and Arkansas prohibit adoption by couples who live together without being married. Florida and Mississippi prohibit adoption by homosexuals.
The adoption bill is presently awaiting a vote by the full House.
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