Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gays’ Role In Parenting Debated

San Antonio Express News, May 4, 1999
Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171
Fax 210-351-7372

Melissa Prentice, Express-News Staff Writer

AUSTIN - More than 200 people overflowed a House State Affairs Committee meeting Monday night to debate whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to adopt children, marry and be free from discrimination in the workplace.

Much of the emotional debate focused on a proposal by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, to prohibit lesbian and gay couples from adopting children or being foster parents, and to remove children the state has previously placed with homosexual couples.

Support for Chisum’s efforts to "place children where it is best for them - where they have a father and a mother" focused on assertions that sodomy is illegal in Texas, that children of same-sex couples may be ridiculed at school and that children may be confused about their own sexuality or adopt a homosexual lifestyle. Houston Democrat Rep. Debra Danburg’s opposing bill prohibiting child protection workers from considering a potential parent’s sexual orientation got applause from more than half of the room - including more than a dozen lesbian, gay and heterosexual parents, social workers and the Houston Log Cabin Republicans.

"The child’s best interest is for us to find a loving home," Danburg said. "We need to find people who love these kids, who will take them to the doctor, take them to the counselor, take them to school, wipe their noses."

The committee wasn’t expected to vote on either proposal after hours of debate late Monday night.

An Austin lawyer who spoke in favor of Chisum’s measure said mainstream Texas supports it.

"Children would be far better off in an orphanage than living with people who practice homosexual conduct," Jerald Finney said. "Homosexuality is conduct, like smoking, drinking, stealing or lying."

Opponents questioned how the state would determine if "homosexual activity is occurring or is likely to occur" short of putting cameras in bedrooms and cited studies that the success of children raised in gay and lesbian families is equal to that of children raised in heterosexual homes.

"It has been said that living with a father and a mother is an ideal home," said Bob Lynch, who’s raising a 3-year-old son with his male partner. "But this is not an ideal world. In an ideal world, every mom wants to raise her child, no children are abused ... and there is no need for adoption or foster care."

About 70 percent of Texas foster and adoptive families are married couples, while 30 percent are unmarried men, women and same-sex couples.

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