On Saturday, January 9, 2010, Sex and the City star and LGBT rights advocate Cynthia Nixon joined the ACLU of Florida to support their campaign to end the ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians in that state. The following was an op-ed she wrote for the Miami Herald in the days leading up to the event.
Florida is the only state in the union to have a law that specifically bars gay men and lesbians from adopting children. This not only discriminates against an entire class
of citizens, but it hurts the more than 3,500 children in Florida’s foster care system by diminishing the pool of eager, loving adults who could potentially adopt them. It also dictates that children born into gay families have only one legally recognized parent.
As a gay woman and a mother of two school-aged children, I stand firmly with the ACLU to help it end this senseless ban. I wholeheartedly support the ACLU’S work in the courts and the Florida Legislature. I lend my voice as they seek to raise awareness among Floridians about the state’s shameful adoption ban, which hurts many children and families and sends a wrong-minded message about who gay people are and what we are like.
There is an abundance of evidence that children are every bit as well off in a home with gay parents as they are in a home with straight parents. That is why every major children’s health and welfare organization, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the American Psychological Association, expressly oppose a law that categorically prohibits gay people from adopting. Ending the ban would allow gays and lesbians to go through the same meticulous process to adopt a child that others currently undergo, and it would allow judges to decide on a case-by-case basis what is in the best interest of each individual child.
In New York, where I live, I have many gay friends who are raising children, both natural and adopted. When I look at my friends’ families one thing is abundantly clear: These children are incredibly lucky to have their parents, and these parents are incredibly blessed to have their children. When I imagine a law existing in my state that would have prevented these families from coming into being, it makes me furiously angry and woefully sad, and I know that such a law would be an unjust one.
There are thousands of Florida children languishing in foster care — at least 100 of whom age out of the system each year never having had a forever home. Though some of these kids beat the odds, we know that the vast majority of children who age out of foster care face an increased likelihood of homelessness, incarceration and dependence on public benefits.
Florida needs to stop holding the lives of children trapped in Florida’s troubled foster care system hostage to the anti-gay bigotry that dominated the politics of the Legislature 30 years ago. Additionally, what kind of message are we sending to the children born into gay families — only one of whose mothers or fathers is recognized by the state? And what happens to those children and their remaining parent if that “legal” parent dies?
It’s time for Florida to join the 21st century. This hateful law must be repealed for children in need, for parents who want to be and for the dignity of the gay community. Gay or straight, a parent is a parent is a parent. A family is a family is a family. This is true everywhere. And it should be true in Florida.