October 1, 2004 Letters

first_img Letters Gay Adoptions After having read and responded to the initial article over the summer on the gay adoption issue, I am once again concerned at the content of the September follow-up article. As with the first publication, the reporter fails to take any interest in seeking opposing viewpoints to his obvious support for gay adoption. He instead takes great effort to quote only those who support his position.As the reporter seems to think, any dissent on this issue is based merely on a lack of education. Or the Bar itself has apparently not done enough to “educate its members.” Then it is a children’s rights issue, not a gay rights issue. Also, there are not enough people willing to adopt. The reporter even throws in a Martin Luther King, Jr., reference to anoint support of his position in the unassailable cloth of the civil rights movement. Wait, I thought this was only about the children’s rights?Regretably, this Orwellian spin machine of an article is itself a prime indication the matter is far too divisive a political issue for the Bar to take a position let alone to undertake lobbying efforts. And it is not enough merely to state that no mandatory fees will be utilized. The Bar is supposed to represent all its attorneys rather than seek to divide them along political, moral, or ethical lines.But in an effort to downplay the divisiveness issue, the author cites a quote that “the individual lawyer was not opposed to the position but thinks it will rile up other Bar members.” What exactly does this mean? Either he is saying there are no individual lawyers opposed to the Family Law Section’s position supporting gay adoption, or if there are any, then it is based solely upon a fear that other lawyers may be opposed. Who then within the Bar would be riled up? In other words, there is supposedly no dissent on this issue, and if there is any dissent, then it is entirely chimerical or based on a lack of education.Well, the undersigned dissents because a policy supporting gay adoption is wrong for many reasons. Not least of which being that the psychological well-being of children should not be sacrificed on the altar of social experimentation. With all due respect, maybe the reporter would like to quote me on that for his next article. Mitchell A. Meyers Raleigh N.C.I read with disappointment that the Family Law and Public Interest Law Sections will delay their request to lobby for the overturn of the ban on gay adoption, citing possible “divisiveness” within The Florida Bar on this issue.This “divisive” issue has already been endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, numerous child advocacy groups, religious groups, and Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville.Why? Because an entire class of Floridians are being treated as second-class citizens, while thousands of children languish in foster care while waiting for adoption. I gave up the hope long ago that The Florida Bar would ever be ahead of the curve on any issue, but I would at least hope that we wouldn’t be behind the curve on something as important as this. Patrick Howell Orlando“Gay adoption request sidelined for now” in the September 1 News was a disservice to the Bar. Instead of giving some useful information for evaluating the implications of gay adoption, it simply repeated the same old talking points of advocates of gay adoption — People are only opposed to gay adoption because they have not been properly educated on the issue; other professional associations support gay adoptions; and the state has too many children in foster care so we should allow gay adoption.None of those talking points address the issue of whether gay adoption will promote the best interests of children. Information that should be considered is empirical data about the well-being of children raised by homosexuals. What is the suicide rate of children raised by homosexuals versus that of children raised by married heterosexual couples? What about the rates of drug usage, criminal activity, sexual activity, disease, life expectancy, and homosexuality of children raised by homosexuals? Certainly, there must be reliable studies with information about the effect of homosexual parenting on children. I hope that this paper can devote some resources to disseminating such information.The Bar should not abdicate its responsibility to evaluate this issue on its merits simply because some other professional associations have decided to support gay adoption. We should consider carefully the implications of allowing gay adoption. There are many important questions we should be asking such as: Will gay adoption result in greater harm to children? Will allowing gay adoption reduce the number of children in foster care? Do gays adopt only foster children? Do gays adopt foster children at a higher rate than heterosexual couples? Is there a shortage of adoptive heterosexual couples for nonfoster care children? Will allowing gay adoption result in fewer nonfoster care children being adopted by married heterosexual couples? Please give the Bar some useful information on this important subject. Jerome Hurtak MiamiDeja vu all over again? Consider the following:• A discrete minority of American citizens is denied the equal application of our laws and protections;• After years of debate and social activism, critical mass is attained: courts decide that separate is not equal and laws begin to change to redress the problem;• Opposition to this change is fierce and wide-ranging, citing for its support everything from legal and historical precedent to religious teachings to the best interests of society in general (and children in particular) to personal repugnance.This scenario should sound familiar to anyone who lived through the ’50s and ’60s and, while the analogy is not perfect, there are more similarities than differences in the current controversy surrounding gay marriage and adoption. Opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could not envision a racially integrated society; a mere 40 years later few of them would care to admit it. I hope and trust that 40 years hence, it will be just as unthinkable to insist that any American should be denied the right to marry and adopt children. Nina E. Perry SarasotaI read the editor’s note to a letter in the September 1 News, wherein it states that the sections which are advocating gay adoption are voluntary sections and would use voluntary dues for lobbying efforts.The letter writer’s objection was not to money used for a position he disagreed with, but rather to the fact that a mandatory organization like The Florida Bar would take such a position, albeit in News’ opinion a voluntary section. Nonetheless it is The Florida Bar that would assume and lend its authority to this position.I too object to a mandatory organization taking a position I find repugnant on religious and social grounds. I have performed significant child advocacy pro bono work for 25 years (receiving a local award in Palm Beach County 1999 and an award from the Florida Supreme Court and the governor in 2002) and in my experience I believe that gay adoption would not be in the “best interests” of children as used in Florida Statutes. Moreover, my closely held spiritual beliefs are not in alignment with this position.Should the Bar allow advocation of gay adoption, not only would I object, but believe that a legal challenge may be in order. Mark Hektner West Palm Beach Lawyer AdvertisingI read with dismay that the Bar’s Advertising Task Force was considering whether to ban direct mail solicitations to criminal defendants within 30 days of their arrest date.As an attorney who has used such direct mailings for over 10 years, I can attest first-hand that the public benefits of the current rule far outweigh any potential for harm sought to be addressed by a rule change.During the thousands of free consultations conducted in response to my advertisement letter, I have enlightened defendants as to the seriousness of their charges; advised them of potential defenses and lack thereof; discussed strategies; quoted fees; estimated costs; given impressions on involved personalities; given comfort and innumerable bits of legal, practical, and human advice to all sorts of people accused of crimes, all presumed innocent, most of whom were in need of a voice they could trust. All were at no charge in response to my advertisement letter.Many recipients of my letter received other solicitations and responded to those also. This indicates that people are making an informed selection of an attorney based on more than just advertisements.Those who seek to change the rule might not give the public enough credit and assume that people are so easily swayed by clever lawyer advertisements that there can never be too much regulation. The result is that attorney advertisements all look similar and attorneys have an unfavorable, commonplace image.Rule 4-7.4 provides more than adequate safeguards to ensure that any potential for abuse is minimized, its extensive requirements need not be repeated here.While the 30-day limitation may or may not make sense in the personal injury context, crucial criminal proceedings occur within the first 30 days following an arrest. Attorney involvement is desirable immediately after an arrest. Pre-trial release, evidentiary preservation and “fast track” plea issues must be considered immediately.Many people who responded to my letter never realized that they could afford to hire a private attorney. They would have never known of the availability of an affordable payment plan and were planning on using a public defender before responding.Extending the ban on direct mail solicitations to 30 days would limit the amount of available information and choices to the public and would undoubtedly further strain our public resources. Louis N. Larsen Stuar t October 1, 2004 Letters October 1, 2004 Letterslast_img

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