House Bill Could Ban Same-Sex Couples From Adopting
James Olive and his partner, who will be together seven years in April, live in northern Columbus with their adopted baby boy. The couple brought the baby home from the hospital in the summer of 2004 when he was only three days old. By March 2005, the baby was theirs.
"Our process went about as fast as it possibly could. We completed the adoption within six months and four days. Normally it takes anywhere from a year to two years, so we were very lucky about that," Olive said.
Olive said he and his partner have served as foster parents to four other children in the past. But if House Bill 515 passes, couples like this will not be able to foster or adopt a child. The bill is being called The Adoptive and Foster Children's Protection Act and would prohibit an adoptive or foster child from being placed in the home of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person.
The bill's sponsor is State Representative Ronald Hood from Ashville.
"House bill 515, the purpose of that is to place children in an optimal environment which is with a mother and a father," Hood said.
Executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and former social worker, Chris Link, said this bill would be a huge set back for children waiting to be placed in homes.
"I can tell you what children don't need is to be raised in an institution. Every child deserves a home. And to eliminate this whole group of people based on sexual orientation is really quite a tragedy," Link said.
Link called the bill blatant discrimination in its worst form. She added that there is no research to prove that heterosexual couples nurture any better than same-sex couples.
"Laws like this are based primarily on bias and prejudice. There is no research that shows that a gay, lesbian, transgendered person makes a poorer sort of parent or foster parent than any other person," Link said.
But State Representative Hood disagreed with Link.
"Well we have studies that show that there is research out there that shows that the best optimal environment to raise a family is in fact with a mother and a father in a household. So I would disagree with someone who would say that we do not have studies that show that the optimal environment is in fact with a mother and a father," Hood said.
Olive said he was afraid a bill like this would come about, and said it hurts him personally.
"The reason why I say it hurts is because we've been able to see just four examples of the situations these children are being put in and to be able to give a home to a child who needs it is a wonderful thing," Olive said.
But Hood insisted this bill is meant to protect children and to place them in an optimal environment, with a man and woman, to be raised.
"This bill says that it doesn't want gays fostering or adopting children. But what about the folks who adopted children and then kept some of them in cages? Is that optimal? Well this bill does not speak to other issues that would arise in the placement of children for adoption and foster parenting," Hood said.
Olive said he hopes those who believe same-sex couples are less adequate when it comes to being parents than heterosexual couples will try to get to know a same-sex family.
"My experience with people who make claims like this is that they don't have any true close connections to a gay or lesbian family. Because if they did they would see that the child is the absolute most important part of our life, for any parent, gay or straight. And if they actually took the time to get to know us they would see that we pretty much live and breathe for the child we have. We're very thankful," Olive said.
Even if this bill passes, Olive and his partner will not have to lose their son.