Florida said these laws would increase the likelihood that children will be raised by married mothers and fathers. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this a legitimate concern: "It is rational for Florida to conclude that it is in the best interests of adoptive children, many of whom come from troubled and unstable backgrounds, to be placed in a home anchored by both a father and a mother."
The case highlights the importance of the upcoming battle over Bush's judicial appointments. The ruling stands only because the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals deadlocked 6-to-6 over whether to have the full court rehear the case. One of the judges to vote against the rehearing was William H. Pryor Jr., whom the Senate Democrats filibustered and who thus serves only as a temporary recess appointment.
Although it is good to know that in the 11th Circuit, at least, the idea that children need moms and dads is not (yet) considered hate speech, one can seriously question how well the Florida law serves its intended purpose. Why not instead create preferences for married couples in adoption law?
Most people probably assume that married couples are already preferred, where available, in adoptions.
But a forthcoming policy brief on adoption law by Joshua Baker (my colleague at the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy) concludes: "Only two states codify that presumption as any kind of a preference for married couples." States are twice as likely to "forbid 'discrimination' based on marital status than to make any legal effort to place vulnerable children in homes with a married mother and father." (For a copy of the brief and accompanying model legislation remedying the situation, e-mail Joshua@imapp.org.)
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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