Update 4.30pm: Members of the Legislative assembly today voted 45-43 in favour of Clover Moore’s amendment to legalise same-sex couple adoption after Labor’s Frank Sartor attached an amendment exempting the Adoption Act from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act.
The Adoption Act already allowed parents giving a child up for adoption a say in who receives their child.
Sartor told the Parliament that he had been told that his amendment had been welcomed by Catholic and Anglican adoption agencies as an improvement to the bill even though they remained opposed to the principle of adoption by same-sex couples.
A number of MPs who voted in favour of the bill at the “in principle” stage indicated that they would need to see it further amended before supporting it in a final vote.
An amendment asked for by a number of members who had voted “no” at the in principle stage to exclude same-sex couples from stranger adoption entirely was not forthcoming.
The bill will now go to the Legislative Council.
Update 12.50pm: The NSW Legislative Assembly has agreed to Clover Moore’s amendment to legalise same-sex couple adoption “in principle” in a vote of 46-44.
However a number of those voting yes on the amendment indicated they would like to see further changes before giving their full support, while a number of those who voted no said they would have supported an amendment which allowed for known adoptions but excluded same-sex couples from stranger adoption.
A highlight of the second day of debate was both the Opposition leader, Barry O’Farrell, and the Deputy leader of the Opposition, Jillian Skinner, speaking in favour of the bill.
In detail consideration of the amendment will be heard at a later time.
UPDATE 10.30am: Debate has been resumed and can be watched online at http://stream.ac3.com.au/NSWLA
The first session of debate on Clover Moore’s same-sex adoption amendment saw speakers overwhelmingly arguing for reform.
Of the 26 MP’s to speak, 17 spoke in favour of the bill.
Only one of these, Labor’s Frank Sartor, said his support was tentative, hoping that further amendments would give parents giving children up for adoption the right to refuse them being placed with gay or lesbian couples.
The other 16 were Clover Moore; the independent for Lake Macquarie, Greg Piper; the Nationals’ Russel Turner; Liberals Pru Goward and Peter Debnam; and Labor MPs Linda Burney, Verity Firth, Virginia Judge, Carmel Tebbutt, Dr Andrew McDonald, Tanya Gadiel, Jodi McKay, David Campbell, Paul Pearce, Phil Koperberg, and Premier, Kristina Keneally.
Premier Keneally spoke at length about Catholic teaching on the issue of homosexuality to explain why she saw no conflict between her faith and her support for the amendment, saying the only point on which she strayed from maintream Catholic doctrine was her belief that sex within a relationship which was not for procreation was not immoral, noting the Church did not bar infertile heterosexuals from having sex within marriage.
Labor’s Dr Andrew McDonald, who is a pediatrician, said that as the only member of the House to have had a hands on involvement in the adoption system, he had no reservations in supporting the amendment.
Strathfield MP Virginia Judge spoke passionately in favour of the bill, but noted her disappointment that exemptions had been added for religious run adoption.
In beginning the debate Clover Moore stated the exemption had been added as a sweetener for conservative members of Parliament, despite her personal belief that there should be no exemptions to the Anti-Discrimination Act.
Those speaking against the bill were Labor’s Ninos Khoshaba and Paul Gibson; the Nationals’ Andrew Stoner and Katrina Hodgkinson; and Liberals Jonathan O’Dea, Greg Smith, Rob Stokes, Mike Baird and Michael Richardson.
Of these, Jonathan O’Dea and Rob Stokes indicated they supported same-sex “known adoptions” (such as children being fostered, or where a child was being adopted by the partner of someone who’s custody they were already in) but could not support the amendment in its current form.
In making his case against the amendment Nationals leader Andrew Stoner cited a research review by G.A. Rekkers, an American psychologist, as being authoritative on outcomes of same-sex parenting. Stoner was apparently unaware that the same Rekkers was a Baptist Minister and had this year quit the board of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH) in disgrace after it was revealed he’d hired a 20 year old rent boy to accompany him on a 10-day European vacation.
NARTH is an American organisation that maintains homosexuality can be cured through therapy.
Debate on the amendment was adjourned after five hours at 9.15 pm to be continued at a future date.