UNDER THE RAINBOW: THE BAN ON GAY ADOPTION IN FLORIDA
Florida is the only state in the country with a complete ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians.
NOW talks to couples and politicians looking to change the law, as well as those dedicated to keeping the ban in place and expanding it to other states. Both are fighting in the name of family and believe they have the best interest of the child at heart.
"Most of these families are fostering very difficult to place children … You think the state is a better parent than a homosexual family? I don't get it," Florida State Rep. Sheri McInvale, a Republican, told David Brancaccio. McInvale has sponsored a bill in the Florida House of Representatives that would give judges the discretion to allow gay couples to adopt.
One of the couples NOW follows is Scott Elsass, a health care executive, and Curtis Watson, a therapist, two Florida men who almost lost custody of the children in their care.
Three years ago, the couple was contacted by a case manager asking them if they could take care of four-year old, Francesca for the weekend. Francesca was labeled a "special needs child."
"She walked in the door with the case worker … she started swearing at us and cussing us out and just gave us the finger and did all sorts of crazy stuff," Elsass said. Due to Francesca's violent behavior she had been bounced from 17 foster homes in two months.
After the initial weekend, Elsass and Watson were asked to take Francesca on a more permanent basis, and they were elated. They were later asked to care for Francesca's older sister, Angelina. "I fell in love with that girl from the start. That's my girl," Elsass said.
But in a drawn-out court battle, the couple almost lost custody of the girls until a Florida judge ruled that the pair had demonstrated "phenomenal parenting skills."
Mathew Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, an organization that promotes "traditional values", believes that homosexuals, regardless of their parenting skills, should not be allowed to adopt children.
"…If you have a boy or a girl that is raised in a same sex household, they are more at risk from an environmental standard or a situation to grow up gay… Their identity of who they are, their esteem, their self worth and their socialization is ultimately going to be affected as well," Staver told Brancaccio.
NOW's examination of gay adoption in Florida comes as the issue becomes more contentious in several states. Last month, the Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities announced it would end its two decade-long adoption program rather than comply with a state law barring discrimination against gays.
The decision came as a major adoption institute released a report strongly supporting the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt and urges any remaining obstacles be removed.
"Laws and policies that preclude adoption by gay or lesbian parents disadvantage tens of thousands of children mired in the foster care system who need permanent loving homes," the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute said in its report.
'FAKE' NEWS: PROPAGANDA IN THE MEDIA
David Brancaccio interviews Diane Farsetta, who runs the "No Fake News" Campaign at the Center for Media and Democracy. 'Fake' News refers to corporate or government video footage that masquerades as news reports and is delivered to the public as part of a news station broadcast. Farsetta discusses an April 2006 report she co-authored that is critical of both companies and news stations that employ this deceptive tactic.