A bill that would have expanded adoption laws to allow joint adoption by unmarried couples was defeated by a 3-1 vote in the Louisiana Senate yesterday. The bill was fiercely opposed by religious groups.
Senate Bill 129, which ended up as a combination of two measures by Sens. Ed Murray and J.P. Morrell, would have allowed unmarried couples to jointly adopt and allow an existing parent to petition a court to add a second adult as a legal parent. The bill would have applied regardless of the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation, but the debate centered on the rights of gay parents and their children. Louisiana law restricts adoption to married couples or single individuals, meaning gay couples or unmarried heterosexual couples can adopt but must choose which adult has parental rights. The debate pitted the Forum for Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, the American Civil Liberties Union and other adoptive parents, including New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow, against a long list of primarily religious interests: the Louisiana Family Forum, the Conference of Catholic Bishops and representatives of Louisiana Southern Baptists.
The bill was also opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.