Saturday, December 11, 2004

Gay Adoption in Missouri - Legitimate News?

Missouri Lawyers Weekly recently published an article on gay adoption in Missouri. In a nutshell, the article reports that allowing an adoption to go forward is within the discretion of the judge, and that certain judges in Missouri allow gay couples to adopt. The adoption statute doesn't say one way or the other whether gays should be allowed to adopt - it takes the refreshingly even-handed approach of referring to potential adoptive parents as "persons".

As stated in the article, "Single men can adopt, so can single women. The overarching concern is the child's welfare, whether adoption is in his or her best interest. It is a question that a judge must ultimately decide and it is up to a lawyer to find a judge willing to entertain the petitions."

An interesting question that arose in the article is the fact that the people involved "admit it has been done in Missouri only under a cloak of secrecy," and "one said it would be 'unconscionable' even to write about the practice, fearing it will invite a crackdown by the Legislature."

Sadly, I can't disagree with the concerns, and a part of me wants to criticize Missouri Lawyers Weekly for publicizing the practice. If such adoptions are legal, and they happen in the ordinary course of business, why should the glare of publicity be shone upon them?

Ultimately, though, I side with the journalists, and agree that a free press should inform the citizenry of matters of public interest. If my reason for complaining about the article were that the topic is too dull and ordinary to be worth my time to read about, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, though, my real complaint would be based on my fear that some citizens and legislators may find this topic of real interest, and do something about it. In a democracy, public policy should not be decided in secret, even when it is policy with which I agree (which, by the way, is why the Bush administration should be forced to disclose who participated in developing its energy plan, but that's a different post).


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