Apr 27, 2010 5:48 PM by Melissa Canone
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A proposal to let gay parents adopt
children together in Louisiana was rejected Tuesday by a Senate
judiciary committee, a move expected to kill the bill for the
Senators on the Judiciary A Committee voted 3-1 against the
bill, siding with opponents from Catholic, Baptist and other church
groups who argued the adoptions would encourage immoral behavior
and violate the spirit of a voter-approved constitutional ban on
"What these children will learn from structures which are not
moral or spiritual will only hurt them," said Willie Wooten, a
minister and founder of Gideon Christian Fellowship in New Orleans.
Supporters of the bill by Sens. Ed Murray and J.P. Morrell, both
Democrats from New Orleans, said people should be encouraged to
adopt children and gay couples could offer loving homes to children
who otherwise might live in group or foster homes.
"I see nothing of any substance that says that an unmarried
couple, whether they be heterosexual or gay or lesbian, cannot be
good parents," said Arnie Fielkow, head of the New Orleans City
Council who has adopted two children with his wife. "I would urge
the committee to think about the kids, irrespective of your
political philosophy or your beliefs on social values."
Louisiana law allows married couples or a single person to adopt
If a single person adopts a child and is in a relationship -
whether straight or gay - the partner in that relationship has no
legal parental rights, even if the partner is involved in raising
the child. Gay couples aren't allowed to marry in Louisiana and
can't legally adopt children together.
The bill would have allowed two single people to jointly adopt a
Supporters included the Louisiana chapters of the National
Association of Social Workers and the American Civil Liberties
Union and the gay rights group Forum for Equality Louisiana.
Opponents included the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops,
the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the conservative Christian group
Louisiana Family Forum and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The debate was emotional.
Kelly Bryson, of New Orleans, choked back tears as she asked
lawmakers to back the bill so she could legally adopt a child she
is raising with her partner. Bryson adopted one of her sons,
William, when she lived in Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, but
she's been unable to adopt the second child, Jeremy, since she
moved back to Louisiana. She said without the legal adoption of
Jeremy, she can't make health decisions for him and he doesn't have
"Families come in many shapes, sizes and colors," said Carmen
Weisner, with the social workers association.
Louis Husser, pastor of Crossgate Church in Robert, urged the
committee against changing current law, calling the bill social
experimentation on children.
"What's going to stop us from moving the standard later for a
convicted felon to adopt children? The ACLU would defend them. Or a
polygamist or a pedophile?" Husser said.
The only vote for the bill came from Murray, D-New Orleans.
Voting against the bill were Sens. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge; Jack
Donahue, R-Mandeville, and Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe. Committee chair,
Sen. Julie Quinn, R-Metairie, didn't vote.
Louisiana is in a federal court battle with two gay men who
received approval to adopt a child in a New York court. The
Louisiana Office of Vital Records refused to issue a birth
certificate listing the two men's names as parents of the
Louisiana-born child. A federal judge and a federal appeals court
have ruled against Louisiana.
Sen. Buddy Shaw, R-Shreveport, had a bill Tuesday that attempted
to rewrite Louisiana's birth certificate laws for adopted children.
But Shaw shelved the bill after Quinn and others on the committee
questioned the attempt to change statute retroactively to influence
the federal case and said the change would conflict with the