February 25, 2009

Adoption bill sparks protest

By: Andy Mead

For more than a decade, a small group of people has gathered in Frankfort while the legislature is in session to support bills that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

This year, they're also rallying against something — a bill that would ban adoptions by anyone "cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is legally valid in Kentucky."

Senate Bill 68 is seen as anti-gay by gay rights organizations in the state.

The main thrust of the "Kentuckians Value Fairness" rally scheduled from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda will be to support the "fairness" anti-discrimination bills.

But the rally could get a boost from people who turn out to oppose the adoption bill.

"A lot of additional allies have cropped up since this Senate bill came out," said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign.

People from several groups, including social workers and pro-adoption organizations in Louisville and Pikeville, are expected to take part in Wednesday's rally, Hartman said.

Political activists, including members of Young Democrats and the Libertarian Party of Kentucky, also are lending their support, said Jordan Palmer, president of the Kentucky Equality Federation.

There's even a group on Facebook, the social networking site. "Stop SB 68 in Kentucky" has more than 5,000 members.

The sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville, did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee. Its chairman, Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he had not formed an opinion on the bill. He said he planned to meet with Tapp to discuss it, but until then "I don't know enough to be opposed to it or for it."

The Family Foundation of Kentucky is for the bill, said David Edmunds, a policy analyst for the group. He said research shows that homes with unmarried couples — either homosexual or heterosexual — are less stable than homes with married couples.

"This is about a child's needs, not adult desires," Edmunds said.

But Ken Moellman, chairman of the state Libertarian Party, said the bill would hurt children if it became law.

"It's unfortunate that some would rather see a child left in a group home or in the foster care system rather than put in a stable environment ... and brought up in a home where they're loved," he said.

Hartman, of the Fairness Alliance, said that if SB 68 is approved by the Senate, he thinks it can be stopped in the House.

The bills that will be supported at the rally are Senate Bill 95, sponsored by Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington; and House Bill 72, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.

Similar bills have never gotten out of a committee in either house. Hartman said he isn't expecting more this year.

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