August 15, 2004 Letters

first_imgAugust 15, 2004 Letters I disagree with the Family Law Section’s position in favor of gay adoptions stated in the July 15 News article titled “Family Law Section votes to support gay adoptions,” and I am convinced that taking a partisan position on the issue is more harmful than helpful to our profession.Although the article pretends to consider the children and not gay rights, I do not believe that it does. taking a position firmly in support of gay adoptions, the Family Law Section is, in effect, silencing advocates who represent children and/or who have serious reservations of the impact that gay relationships may have on children. Whether one agrees with the silenced advocates is not the issue; the issue is that their positions should be heard. I believe that no state bar association should take political sides, but rather dedicate its work to ensuring a level playing field such that both sides may be heard and everyone gets representation, including children who may suffer the consequences of being raised by gay parents. Good laws are the product of adversarial debate. Prevent the debate and you are left with one-sided laws.I also question how the Family Law Section purports to represent all members of The Florida Bar when there was neither a referendum on the issue nor an election of the Family Law Section’s Executive Council who voted to take legislative action to appeal the ban on homosexuals to adopt. The article also demonstrates that no serious study was conducted to assess the consequences of gay adoption on children.Adam J. Oosterbaan Naples August 15, 2004 Letters Gay Adoptions I admit I was quite disturbed when I read in the News of the Family Law Section voting to support gay adoptions. The section claimed this is not a gay rights issue but a children’s rights issue. I also admit my suspicions regarding it not being a gay rights issue, but let’s just go on the children’s rights.I feel comfortable in starting out with the opinion that it is best for children to be reared by their parents. That obviously means a father and mother, a male and a female. Up until very recently, it has always meant that. We hear very much about the troubles that arise when we deal with single parent families. That would mean just a man or a woman. A single parent simply isn’t able to give a child all of what the child needs. A child needs both male and female care, guidance, education, supervision, and love. Everybody, other than maybe gays, agrees with that. Look at all the opinion polls and medical research and opinions.A gay couple, obviously, consists of either two males or two females. They aren’t the necessary male and female couple who have been created to, among other things, rear children. You may have two adults rearing a child, but you have nothing else but a single parent relationship. Did any of your committee think of it that way? Are you really sure that the vote did not have a tinge of gay rights involved?The article quotes Family Law Section Chair Evan Marks as saying, “All research says two loving parents is what is needed.” What is the normal, usual definition of parents? A father and mother, a man and a woman.If this is 100 percent a children’s rights issue, I don’t see how the vote could be one that precludes a child from having the above care, guidance, education, supervision, and love of parents, consisting of the above man and woman, father and mother. Both sexes are necessary to provide all of that. Each sex offers something different than the other.I hope the Family Law Section’s Executive Council will reconsider. Should the vote of something this important not be put to your membership?In my opinion, it is very important from another aspect. In the same News there is an article about lawyer advertising. Oh, yes, the problems with advertising and the lawyer image that is presented to the public. We are trying to improve our image all the time.Sorry, but going in favor of gay adoptions certainly does not improve the lawyer image.Wm. A. Oughterson Stuartcenter_img Letters The question of what legislative positions the Bar and its sections may actively support has once again been brought to the forefront by the vote of the Family Law Section’s Executive Council to support the repeal of F.S. §63.042(3), the subsequent support resolution passed by the Equal Opportunities Law Section, and the July 15 News article titled “Family Law Section votes to support gay adoption.”In 1991, the Board of Governors correctly determined that homosexual adoption was beyond the scope of permissible lobbying activities of the Public Interest Law Section. PILS subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court and in that dispute cited The Florida Bar Re: Frankel 581 So. 2d 1294 (Fla. 1991) claiming that, “[v]olunteer sections and committees are the appropriate vehicles for lobbying on issues that do not fall within” guidelines for permissible lobbying activities of The Florida Bar. The PILS’ petition was denied without a published opinion.In its pleadings, the Bar noted that subunits of a mandatory membership organization raised unique freedom of association issues, especially on topics that may be divisive within the general membership of the umbrella group. The Bar also noted that sections of a unified bar, that are often funded with mandatory monies, are distinctive from financially autonomous and wholly separate voluntary groups discussed in federal court cases as acceptable alternatives to lobbying by mandatory membership organizations.As was the case in 1991, efforts by the Family Law Section to actively lobby for the repeal of Florida’s homosexual adoption ban creates the potential for a deep and philosophical division among a substantial segment of the Bar’s membership. As recently as early this year, the Executive Council of the FLS voted 17-7 against lobbying to repeal the homosexual adoption ban on the grounds that the issue was too divisive. Interestingly, only five months later, shortly after Evan Marks became FLS chair, the “divisive” nature of homosexual adoption had been settled, at least in the minds of the Executive Council. It raises the question how an executive council, in less than five months, can have such a dramatic shift in ideology.The recent news coverage, including the July l5 News article, has presented a distorted view that somehow the “unanimous” vote of the section’s executive council is indicative of the general attitude of the Bar. This is simply not the case.When asked why he thought the Board of Governors would accept the homosexual adoption position today after rejecting it in 1991, Marks stated, “people have become more enlightened.” This supposed “enlightenment” has escaped the attention of the Florida Legislature, which up to this point, has refused to repeal §63.042(3). A bill filed in the Florida Senate this spring to repeal the ban went nowhere. The fact that the executive council of the FLS supports homosexual adoption, but the Florida Legislature, which undoubtedly represents the views of a significant number of the members of the Bar, opposes homosexual adoption, is one of the many indicators that the homosexual adoption issue, as it was in 1991, remains divisive.The FLS Executive Council seeks to take the Bar down a devisive path that could prove damaging to Florida’s children. The Florida Department of Children and Families has concluded that children to be placed for adoption are better off in “homes stabilized by marriage.” Opponents of homosexual adoption cite “enlightened” and authoritative studies finding, among other things, that: children living with homosexuals, especially girls, are more likely to depart from traditional gender roles in their dress, activities, and occupational aspirations; female children living with homosexuals are more likely to be sexually active as teenagers and young adults than children of heterosexuals; children living with homosexuals report experiencing peer stigma regarding their own sexual orientation at higher levels than children of heterosexuals; children living with homosexuals are more likely to be confused about their sexual identities and to identify themselves as non-heterosexual; homosexual couples are more likely to molest their children; homosexuals are more likely to separate than heterosexuals; and children of homosexuals are ostracized by their peers. These findings are reported in an article titled “(How) Does Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” published in the American Sociological Review by Judith Stacey, Ph.D. and Timothy Biblarz (an examination of 21 existing studies of children living with homosexuals) and an article titled “The Potential Impact of Homosexual Parenting on Children” by Lynn D. Wardle published in the University of Illinois Law Review in 1997.Regardless of what side of this issue members of the Bar may fall, the bottom line is clear: The legislative position being advanced is divisive, politicizes the Bar and based on current studies, potentially damaging to Florida’s children.Douglas A Lewis Naples and Stephen E.Thompson Napleslast_img

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