Former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee might want to think twice before opening his mouth next time.
The FOX News host told a student newspaper earlier this month that the country shouldn't "experiment" by allowing gay couples to adopt children. "Children are not puppies," he said. "This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?"
First, the governor should know that LGBT parenting is already working -- and has been for years. According to UCLA's Williams Institute, there are one million LGBT parents raising approximately two million kids. And those children are doing just fine.
Second, just days after Huckabee made his angry remarks, a judge in conservative Arkansas ruled in favor of gay couples adopting. Ouch. In the governor's home state no less.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza noted in his opinion that is it not in the state's interest -- nor in the best interest of children -- to exclude an entire group of people from becoming parents. This is what the child welfare experts have been saying for 30 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, Child Welfare League of America and the National Adoption Center agree gay and lesbian couples are eminently qualified to be parents.
Bottom line: These are the groups that should be making child welfare decisions -- the child welfare experts. Not me. Not Mr. Huckabee. Not civil rights advocates. Not churches or politicians or governments. The Florida legislature in particular should get out of the regulating families business. The state has prevented Martin Gill from adopting two brothers abandoned by their biological parents. Gill and his partner of eight years have been fostering both boys for four years. The state of Florida would rather split those children apart than leave them with the only loving parents they know. How is that in the best interest of these children?
Writer Dan Savage, a gay parent, has the crux of the debate over adoption about right: it's a choice between the 500,000 foster kids in the U.S. having parents or not having parents. Period.
President Obama told Family Equality Council in 2008 that more needs to be done, "to support and strengthen LGBT families. Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it's about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom... That's why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws."
So let's get to it. We urge the President to make opening more homes to kids waiting in foster care a priority by speaking out -- perhaps during Foster Care Awareness next month -- on the need to end restrictions on the literally hundreds of thousands of LGBT couples who are ready, willing, and able to provide loving, permanent homes. With the President's leadership, we can pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (HR 4806) sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), legislation that requires every state to look at the best interest of the children when making placement decisions as opposed to focusing on the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective parents.
There are many important issues on the docket right now in Washington; there always are. But in the midst of a fledging economy and two wars, we must not lose sight of what really matters: the health and welfare of America's children and making families, gay and straight, stronger and healthier.
Follow Jennifer Chrisler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/family_equality