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Briefing

Obama vs. Romney 101: 4 ways they differ on gay issues

Barack Obama made history on May 9 when he became the first sitting US president to declare support for same-sex marriage. Mitt Romney has said he is against it. But gay issues extend beyond same-sex marriage. 

- Staff writer

Martin Gill plays with his two boys in North Miami, Fla., on Sept. 22, 2010. An appeals court ruled that year that Florida's strict ban on adoption by gay people was unconstitutional. (Carl Juste/The Miami Herald/AP/File)

2. Gay adoption

Obama has stated his unequivocal support for the rights of same-sex couples to adopt. In a proclamation issued last November for National Adoption Month, the president said, “Adoptive families come in all forms. With so many waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure that all qualified caregivers are given the opportunity to serve as adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or marital status.”

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer prior to his 2008 presidential run, Romney said his position on gay adoption was integrally connected to his opposition to same-sex marriage. “Marriage is primarily not about adults, but about kids. A child and their development and nurturing is enhanced by access and by the nurturing of two parents of two different genders,” he said. “So, as we think about the development of children, and the future of our nation and its ability to raise a generation, we need to have homes where there are moms and dads.”

According to his campaign, Romney favors leaving adoption decisions to the individual states. Currently, according to Human Rights Watch, state laws vary widely, and the decision in many places is left up to a judge.

  • At least two states – Mississippi and Utah – expressly ban same-sex couples' adoption. 
  • State courts in Michigan have ruled that unmarried individuals may not jointly petition to adopt.
  • State courts in Kentucky, Nebraska, and Ohio have ruled that second-parent adoptions are not available under current law.  
  • Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to jointly petition to adopt.

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