A ban on gay adoption was struck from Florida law Thursday with Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.
The controversial measure also reinstates an incentive program giving benefits to state employees who adopt children out of foster care. And it begins a new performance-based incentive program for adoption agencies.
“The fundamental goal of Florida’s child welfare system is to find permanent homes for its foster children,” Scott said in a letter explaining his signing.
In reference to the gay-adoption-ban repeal, the governor wrote, “The bill also repeals a provision of Florida law that has not been enforced since 2010 because the Third District Court of Appeal ruled Florida's law prohibiting adoption based on sexual orientation to be unconstitutional. Following the court’s 2010 action, the state’s adoption law requires officials to assess potential adoptive parents according to the best interests of the child, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.”
Though gay parents have been adopting children for five years, the repeal was met with pushback from groups advocating religious liberty. For one, the Florida Family Policy Council launched a campaign urging opponents to send the governor their children’s artwork inscribed with the words “Dear Governor Scott, Please Protect children and veto HB 7013.”
In his letter, Scott urges the Legislature to take further action to protect religious adoption agencies.
“To be clear, some of our faith-based child placement agencies do not place children in homes with same sex parents, and this is a matter of their sincerely held religious beliefs, consistent with religious freedom rights granted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in Article I of the Florida Constitution,” Scott wrote.
But during this year’s legislative session, a “conscience-protection” bill failed to pass. It would have allowed adoption agencies to reject any prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs.