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House approves bill on adoption preference

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A bill giving married couples a tie-breaker preference over singles for state-arranged adoptions is near the finish line at the Arizona Legislature amid debate that centers on what’s best for children.

The Republican-led House on Thursday passed the Senate-approved bill that is supported by social conservatives and opposed by gay-rights advocates.

The House’s 37-20 vote nearly along party lines returned the bill to the Senate to consider changes made by the House.

The changes include softening the preference.

As approved by the House, the bill would require the Department of Economic Security to give married couples a limited preference over single adults when placing children in adoptive homes. The bill says the preference would apply if all other criteria are equal.

Other factors that the department is supposed to consider include possible placements with relatives of the child, established relationships with other people and wishes of children 12 or older.

The home chosen for an adopted child would be the one “that best meets the safety, social, emotional, physical and mental health needs of the child,” the legislation states.

Democrats said the preference for married couples would muddy the adoption process, delaying the finding of new homes for children.

“What truly matters is the stabilization of these kids’ lives,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix.

Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley, said the preference “doesn’t necessarily discriminate” against single people wanting to adopt.

Because God “determined that it takes a man and a woman to create a new life,” it’s evident that a married couple of a man and woman make the best parents, she said.
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