Utah legislature kills second-parent adoption
 

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posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06

Utah legislature kills second-parent adoption
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

By a 5-1 vote, the Utah Senate's Health and Human Services Committee tabled SB62, which would allow a legal parent of a child to designate a second, adoptive co-parent.

The bill would permit one partner in an unmarried couple, including same-sex couples, to adopt children of the other partner.

Utah law currently prohibits anyone who is living in an unmarried, cohabiting relationship from adopting or fostering children. Married couples or single individuals may adopt.

Only Democratic Sen. Luz Robles of Salt Lake City voted to send the bill to the senate floor for consideration.

The measure was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Ross Romero, also a Democrat representing Salt Lake City.

Since SB62 was tabled, it can be brought back for consideration at another time, but the move effectively killed it for this session of the legislature. A majority of the Senate committee would have to agree for SB62 to be reconsidered.

Romero said he would be open to suggestions from committee members on possible amendments to the bill that would gain their support.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, another Salt Lake City Democrat, is sponsoring an identical bill in the House, HB108. It has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.

Debate on the bill made it clear that the potential for adoptions by same-sex couples were the sticking point for the committee majority.

'My own personal belief is that marriage should be between one man and one woman. ... I also believe that children are better [off] with married couples,' said Sen. Pat Jones, a Democrat from Holladay.

Jones said she had received more phone calls and e-mails from residents of her district against the bill than in favor.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, said SB62 would gut Utah's adoption policy, and create a pretext for a court decision authorizing same-sex marriage.

'Where does this all lead? Well, it leads to the slippery slope that we've talked about so many times - the slippery slope to [Gay] marriage that happened in California,' Ruzicka said at the committee hearing, referring to the California Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex marriage in 2008.

The ruling was overturned by Proposition 8, which is itself being litigated in federal court.

On the other hand, Julie Gainer, a physician from Sandy, told the committee she is the biological mother of a 4-week-old 'miracle,' and she would like her Lesbian partner of 10 years to be able adopt the child.

'I am an adult, yet I cannot appoint a second adult to be a [legal] parent to my child, because I am a single cohabiting person with my partner,' Gainer told the committee. 'I do not have the option to marry her in this state. & My daughter will not have the protections afforded by a second parent if I die.'

The LDS (Mormon) Church, which dominates Utah politics, says it will not oppose legislation benefitting LGBT Utahns as long as the measures do not compromise the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.


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