|New South Wales has become the third Australian state and fourth jurisdiction in that country to enact inclusive adoption reform.
On Wednesday evening, the New South Wales Legislative Council voted last night in favour of same-sex adoptions. On Thursday, the Legislative Assembly reiterated its support 46-43.
After a lengthy debate, reform carried the day in the upper house 22-15. Notably, the margin of victory was greater than the two-vote margin in the Legislative Assembly, New South Wales' lower house. However, despite anxiety that the Legislative Assembly would then vote down the measure, the lower house then passed it with a slightly greater majority.
After it had approved the legislation in principle, the Legislative Council debated a series of amendments. The Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos tightened an earlier lower house amendment that Frank Sartor had moved and and released religious groups from coverage under the legislation.
Reflecting mainstream medical and scientific opinion, MLC Don Harwin, said : ''Focus on what is in the best interests of the children, not on your right [to an] opinion. I'm satisfied sexual orientation is not a meaningful indicator of parenting abilities.''
The legislation will amend definitions of 'spouse,' 'de facto partner' and 'couple', as well as enable coparent adoptions. However, as noted in previous columns, religious adoption agencies will be exempted from coverage, unlike in the United Kingdom, which reformed adoption laws in England and Wales in 2002. Scotland followed in 2009.
New South Wales is the fourth Australian jurisdiction to pass inclusive adoption reform legislation, after Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby welcomed the reform, but questioned why religious agencies could continue to discriminate on subjective bases in adoptive child placement. Nevertheless, the Uniting Church and Benevolent Society's child welfare NGOs supported reform.
Members of the council referred to Australian Christian Right pressure groups, which waged email blitzes against the legislation. The Australian Christian Lobby has claimed that its "Kids Rights Count" website 'crashed.' However, this was shortly after it was noted that it cited discredited dumped 'exgay' subcultural luminary George Rekers as an 'authority' on same-sex parenting and contained a dead link to NARTH. It will be remembered that Rekers left NARTH after an unfortunate incident involving two rent boys employed as baggage handlers...
As of today, only the ACL had responded to news of their defeat, warning NSW fundamentalist activists to beware of forthcoming state surrogacy reforms that would also benefit same-sex parents and coparents. On Fred Niles' CDP website, the last media release dealt with accusations about his aides alleged access to porn websites on parliamentary servers.
Brian Robins: "Same sex adoption law faces further vote" Sydney Morning Herald: 07.09.2010: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/lifematters/samesex-adoptions-law-faces-further-vote-20100908- 151cp.html
Matt Akersten: "NSW Adoption bill passes" Same Same: 09.09.2010: http://www.samesame.com.au/news/local/5860/NSW-Adoption-Bill-passes.htm
Not Recommended: Australian Christian Lobby: http://www.australianchristianlobby.org.au Craig Young - 10th September 2010