You Tube video takes on Huckabee’s position on adoption

There is no limit to the sarcasm in this biting You Tube video about Mike Huckabee and  his position on gay adoption.

Huckabee scares me as a potential presidential candidate (although he won’t say anything that definite about running) because his “aw shucks” demeanor and sense of humor belie his far right tendencies. Let’s not forget he is a Southern Baptist minister and there is no Protestant denomination more against equal rights for LGBT people.

Not long ago, Huckabee took up residency in the Florida Panhandle, moving from Arkansas, and you just have to wonder if the Rev. Huckabee did so because of the pivotal status of Florida as we head toward the 2012 presidential race.

The video author rightly points out that children are being reared in all types of families, with all forms of parental guidance: lots of stepfathers and stepmothers; a single parent with a grandparent; grandparents only.  The list goes on. And yet Huckabee  is obsessed with same-sex parents as the apparent downfall of society. It’s gay-baiting, clear and simple, and the message works on so many voters.

Huckabee is framing the issue in ways to make the average uninvolved voter wary of what he’s calling an “experiment” of allowing LGBT people to raise children. The video author becomes almost bitter while talking about this Huckabee tactic, and rightfully so.

Please watch it. Sarcasm and humor….couldn’t get through the day without them in this political climate.

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Are adoption opponents cooling heels until 2012?

Mallory Wells

Vicki Nantz

 As the Florida’s legislative session nears its end May 6, there has been no movement toward usurping last fall’s appellate court decision allowing LGBT individuals to adopt children.

So far, so good, right?

Some political observers such as Orlando filmmaker-activist Vicki Nantz say such action as a referendum is more likely in 2012 – a presidential election year.

“They seem to save up the gay-baiting for the big election years,” she wrote to me in an e-mail.  “They will need very little lead time because they already have a database of names from Amendment 2 in 2008. That theory is shared by the ACLU.”

The last presidential election brought high turnouts of voters to the polls in Florida where a majority supported Barack Obama and a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.

Mallory Wells, legislative lobbyist for Equality Florida, confirmed that there has been no move toward a constitutional amendment on the adoption issue during this year’s legislative session, but the group would continue monitoring for any anti-gay legislation. Such an amendment might prevent adoption by anyone who is unmarried or in an unmarried relationship, for example.

“Many legislators from both sides of the aisle are supportive of LGBT adoption, many of them know LGBT parents and know that they are good parents,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I don’t sense that there is an eagerness on either side to bring the issue back up.” 

In a state where same-sex marriage is prohibited, the next battle will in the area of second-parent adoptions.  Right now, an individual LGBT person can adopt, but if he or she has a partner, that person doesn’t have the same legal parental rights. This is a sham and must be corrected. But in our increasingly ultra-conservative state, such initiatives may not be seen soon.

 In Utah, a bill to allow second-parent adoptions failed earlier this year. See story here. And our political climate is not all that different from that state.

And yet why would legislators not want any committed couple to be equal partners in the parenting of children? It seems to me that would be the most pro-family position to have. But, of course, these opponents are stuck in the past with the belief that only two adults of opposite gender can love each other, create families and be good parents. The facts get in the way of such bias. Many loving LGBT families with children are out there and increasingly evident. It’s time the laws caught up with reality.

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‘In Anita’s Wake’ now can be seen on You Tube

Thanks to the Internet and You Tube, everyone can watch Vicki Nantz’ wonderful documentary, “In Anita’s Wake: The Irrational War on Florida’s Gay Families.”

The documentary has been posted in four parts on You Tube. The first part is above, and the other three sections are here. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four.

I met Ms. Nantz and her partner last September when they brought the film to a cinema in downtown Gainesville. I had started working on a related research project for my mass communications theory class, and the appellate court had just upheld a lower court ruling against the 1977 law. Since then, we’ve become friends on Facebook where she posts her own writings and other insightful links related to the adoption ruling, Florida politics and other LGBT issues.

“In Anita’s Wake” tells the stories of LGBT couples in Florida who had children they wanted to adopt. They are no different from other people who want to have children and create families except they happen to be the same gender. Martin Gill and his partner’s story is well known. But another interesting story seen in the film is that of Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood, Fla.

As the blood relative of a little boy whose family wanted her to adopt him, Vanessa would have been automatically given that opportunity except for the fact she honestly told the state she was a lesbian with a partner. In Part 3, you can hear Vanessa and Melanie talk about what they went through and some of the specific reasons they didn’t simply want to be the boy’s guardian. A judge allowed the adoption but the state appealed. Fortunately last September’s appellate court decision allowed the adoption to be affirmed.

What’s really impressive about the documentary is that Vicki and her partner, Mary Meeks, finance these films on their own and make them available to the public and interested groups.


During the segment with the Aleniers, you can hear (and see) about how a right-wing group attempted to portray them in a flier with a false photo that looks nothing like them but apparently was  a way to cast a negative light.

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Things get complicated in Illinois

 PFLAGphoto © 2009 Emily Mills | more info (via: Wylio)
A committee in the Illinois State Senate has once again rejected an anti-LGBT amendment. See story.

The back-and-forth efforts surrounding the adoption issue in Illinois demonstrate how the issues are not necessarily black-and-white or strictly partisan as you might generally expect.

A Democratic state senator this week sought a bill to allow private adoption agencies to restrict their pool of parents to exclude LGBT couples. His concern was that these agencies would get out of the business altogether rather than go against their religion-based principles.

Almost every poll nationwide and in individual states finds Democrats are the pro-LGBT party but that doesn’t mean every Democratic elected leader will vote that way each time.

A Quinnipiac poll (see questions 30 and 31) in 2009 in Florida found clear majorities of Democrats in favor of gay marriage and against the 1977 law that categorically prevented gays and lesbians from adopting.  Three times as many Democrats, 36 percent, as Republicans, 13 percent, were in favor of allowing marriage. Sixty-one percent of Democrats were against the adoption law, vs. 43 percent of the GOP members.

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Religion interferes with best judgment of potential parents

P1010851photo © 2005 Sharat Ganapati | more info (via: Wylio)
Two other states are grappling with issues related to LGBT parents’ ability to adopt, and it’s interesting to note how religion plays into the debates. As is the issue with marriage, the influence of organized religion is huge even though these are government-regulated processes.

In a speech two years ago, President Obama boldly reminded us that the U.S. is a nation of Christians, but it has never been a Christian nation. It’s a distinction lost on many lawmakers and pundits who would force their church-influenced views of marriage and families on everyone else.

In the Illinois State Senate, a committee rejected a bill that would have allowed religious organizations to deny prospective parents the opportunity to adopt or foster based on their religious faith or lack of religion. LGBT groups believed this bill would have allowed such prejudice if a particular religion didn’t approve of a parent’s sexual orientation.

An unresolved scenario continues to unfold in Virginia where the current governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, is waffling on agreeing to a proposed regulatory change that would prevent adoption agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The change started in the previous Democratic governor’s administration but was proposed the Social Services board.

If approved, private agencies must “prohibit acts of discrimination” based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability or family status when they are placing a child or accepting applications from adults. Currently, single individuals, gay or straight, can adopt but no unmarried couples, which presents problems for many LGBT couples.

McDonnell has said the state’s adoption agencies that are faith-based should be allowed to establish their own policies. LGBT advocacy groups argue that such a policy is not necessarily acting in the best interest of children.

As Ellen Kahn points out in this column, the Child Welfare League of America, the nation’s oldest and largest child welfare organization, opposes restrictions on gay and lesbian adoption.

Why is it that the real needs of children who are living without permanence in their lives are ignored in favor of other conditions deemed more important?

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Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down adoption law

Signing the ballotphoto © 2006 Chris Phan | more info (via: Wylio)
When the judicial arm of government upholds the rights of individuals over the expressed desire of voters, it’s common to hear people whine and complain about activist judges and the like.

 Thursday’s decision by the Arkansas Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling on a 2008 ballot initiative regarding adoption will no doubt be perceived as such by those who don’t understand our system of government. The court said the law that barred unmarried gay and straight couples who “cohabit with a sexual partner” from adopting or serving as foster parents violates constitutional privacy rights.

The initiative had been clearly aimed at preventing the LGBT population from adopting or fostering children.

 The expected reaction from the alleged Christians was quick and furious.

 Byron Babione, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group of Christian lawyers, who defended the Arkansas law in court, told the Law Blog the high court “essentially nullified and vetoed the will of the people of Arkansas who raise families and understand what is best for children and know that children should be placed in homes with married mothers and fathers, which is supported by social science.”

 Will of the people?  It was approved by 57 percent of those who voted in 2008. However, those 586,248 “yes” voters represented just 28.4 percent of the 2,064,173 eligible voters in Arkansas in the fall of 2008. It’s hardly a majority.

 That’s why our forefathers created three arms of government with the judiciary specifically focused on guaranteeing rights of individuals against the tyrannical rule of the majority, which in today’s era of low voter turnout, is actually just those who choose to vote.

 The right wing and others who dislike or fear LGBT individuals understand that they simply  have to motivate a core of voters to come to the polls. It’s never really about a majority of the public or eligible voters.


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‘Pro-family’ group wants you to eat at Chick-Fil-A

The American Family Association, which defines families as though we were living in 1954, has created a You Tube commercial promoting Chick-Fil-A to rebuff the growing boycott movement against the fast-food restaurant chain.

The commercial makes it seem as though the boycott stems only from one Pennsylvania restaurant in the chain providing food for a “pro-marriage conference.” But, of course, investigative reporters have found the privately held company has done much more than that, funding groups that have actively worked against allowing every person to get married and create families.

Boycotts and “buycotts” may not really be that effective with large or national chains. There are usually enough patrons who don’t know or don’t care what a company might be doing. I doubt very much that Target or Chick-Fil-A will be closing up shop any time soon. But it gives me satisfaction to know that my hard-earned dollars will not help the bottom line for companies that want to ostracize the LGBT population. And I know that’s true for other people who want to see equal rights for all Americans.

Of course, it’s expected that the American Family Association would end its commercial with a call for donations.

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7 ways to argue for the fairness of LGBT adoption rights

Participants in workshops being held statewide in Florida are learning ways to argue or speak persuasively about the issue of LGBT adoption.   

Why is this important? Because people are more likely to believe and trust a friend, co-worker or relative instead of a commercial, billboard or website.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Florida is conducting these workshops with the help of GLAAD to create a contingent of individuals who can use a one-to-one or small group strategy. Although the appellate court decided in September 2010 that the categorical ban on adoptions by LGBT people was unconstitutional, there is concern about a political backlash.

Workshop participants are taught to use rhetoric that seeks common ground with the “middle,” such as family values, and emphasizes the harm to the children that resulted from the 1977 law. Specific language is taught for conversations, lectures and news media interviews.

Here are seven suggestions:

  1. Develop key messages using personal stories. They are emotional access points that can make the message stick.
  2. Be specific and succinct.
  3. Messages should be about the children in foster care – this is in their best interest.
  4. Be positive and be for something, not against something.
  5. Be positive and be for something, not against something (twice here for emphasis).
  6. Speak in language of audience’s values: fairness, justice, commitment to children and responsibility for family.
  7. Use specific words such as gay and lesbian instead of homosexual, equal rights instead of special rights, sexual orientation instead of sexual preference.

This advice is geared toward finding common ground with straight people and having them see the adoption issue as being about the children’s best interests and about the nurturing of families.

The next training session is April 16 in Pensacola.

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ACLU brings media training, film to Jacksonville


The ACLU is bringing its resources and expertise to Northeast Florida this  coming weekend in its ongoing effort to be sure the right to adopt and foster for LGBT people is maintained in this state.

I highly recommend the GLAAD Adoption Media Training and the screening of Vicki Nantz’ film “In Anita’s Wake: The Irrational War on Florida’s Gay Families.” I participated in the media training last September in Gainesville as part of my graduate research project.  The training takes just a few hours but was thorough and relevant. It would be very worthwhile for anyone who is not experienced with the media or public speaking.

The film was screened at the Hippodrome Theatre here in Gainesville last fall, and it also is extremely well done. Ms. Nantz has updated the film since then to reflect the political situation in the aftermath of the November election. As most of you know, the climate is ripe for efforts to reverse the court’s decision either through a 2012 referendum or some legislative action that would prevent LGBT adoption or even fostering.

The New York Times article about gay parenting in the South from a few weeks back centered on Jacksonville, Fla., where reporters found a surprising number of same-sex couples who were bringing up children. I hope many of those parents will take advantage of the media training and other opportunities this weekend.

More details are here.

Speaking of Ms. Nantz…she has written a revealing piece for the Watermark newspaper in Central Florida about the role of the Southern Baptist Church in LGBT rights issues. It’s very disheartening to read about a Christian church that works so hard to take away the opportunity for two adults to love each other in a committed relationship, and worse, to prevent children who need loving parents from having them.  I believe that many church members are truly opposed to such efforts but afraid to speak out.

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Author Marc Adams to speak in Ocala Tuesday

Marc Adams was born in a highly religious, evangelical family and his journey toward self-acceptance as a gay man was long and challenging. He has told his story to many people, including in such books as “It’s Not About You: Understanding, Coming Out and Self-Acceptance.”

Adams will speak at 7 p.m. in the MCC Ocala Fellowship Hall, 700 NW 57th Ave., Ocala, 34482. There will be a book signing and refreshments at 8 p.m.

Adams is also the founder and executive director of HeartStrong Inc. One website calls it the only educational nonprofit in the world with the sole mission to provide outreach and support to GLBT students terrorized at religious educational institutions.

Coming-out stories are fundamental to the ability of the LGBT population to triumph over the adversity its members face, and to move on to have successful relationships, marriages and families if they wish.

PFLAG of Ocala  is bringing a nationally known speaker to Ocala this Tuesday, March 29.
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