A measure that would have allowed unmarried couples in Louisiana to adopt children together was defeated by a House panel this week, despite support for the bill from a national alliance of social workers who say the proposed law reflects the current trends of families and gives a “legal reality” to family issues that social workers witness every day.

According to The Advocate, the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure sided 9-2 with the HB 1081’s opponents, like Baton Rouge attorney Todd Gaudin, who told the committee that the bill “would open the door to girlfriends, boyfriends and gay partners.” The bill’s more predictable opponents include the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the head of which told The Advocate Tuesday that a fitting moral environment for children can only be found in the homes of married couples:

HB1081 would have created the legal concept of a “fictive stepparent” who would have been allowed to adopt a child under existing state law. The measure would have defined a “fictive stepparent” as someone unrelated to the child by birth or marriage, but who lives in the same home and has developed an emotional relationship with the child that includes “affection, concern, obligation and responsibility.”

Carmen D. Weisner, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers, Louisiana Chapter, said after the hearing that if a single person adopts a child, the adult with whom they are in a relationship has no legal parental rights under Louisiana law. This situation often keeps the child from having access to health insurance or Social Security benefits or rights to inherit, she said. The National Association of Social Workers is a Washington, D.C., professional organization claiming 150,000 members.

“The family model is constantly changing,” said state Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans, who sponsored HB1081.
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