2011 Legislative Session
TALLAHASSEE (FBW)—In spite of court rulings overturning Florida’s law banning homosexuals from adopting children, House Speaker Dean Cannon believes Gov. Rick Scott should direct the Department of Children and Families to enforce the law.
In an exclusive interview with Florida Baptist Witness in the speaker’s Capitol office on Jan. 20, Cannon talked about various policy issues for the upcoming legislative session and his goals for the next two years as the top presiding officer of the Florida House of Representatives.
Cannon, 42, a member of First Baptist Church in Winter Park, also spoke about his spiritual pilgrimage from a “hard-charging, hard-partying fraternity” student at the University of Florida to a transformed believer in Jesus Christ, saved while listening to Christian radio as a UF senior.
Concerning the homosexual adoption ban, Cannon said the Legislature may reassert its position affirming the prohibition if that becomes necessary, but is awaiting word whether the Scott administration will continue to enforce the ban.
“The tactical calculus is to make a change [in the law] would almost imply that you agree that there was some flaw identified by the Third DCA,” Cannon said of the Legislature’s options after the Third District Court of Appeal overturned the law last year.
“Because that’s just in one district, it may make sense to wait and see if that Third DCA opinion is eventually brought up with another case and either overturned or affirmed by the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Until we know how the governor and DCF secretary are going to apply it, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Legislature should step in,” he said. “If we think we should, we’re certainly prepared and willing to do so.”
Asked if the governor should enforce the law, Cannon replied, “Absolutely.”
In September, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal upheld a 2008 trial court opinion finding “no rational basis” for Florida’s 33-year-old homosexual adoption ban. In response, then-Gov. Charlie Crist directed the Department of Children and Families to stop enforcing the law.
Then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, who had recently lost in the gubernatorial primary to Rick Scott, chose not to appeal the ruling, and the time to appeal has since lapsed.
Controversy about the adoption ban re-emerged Jan. 19 in response to Scott’s appointment of David Wilkins, a board member of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, as the new DCF secretary. Critics expressed concern Wilkins’ connection to FBCH may suggest support for the ban. [For more, see related story.]
Cannon voiced skepticism that a new round of gambling expansion will be considered favorably in the Florida House this year, although some Senate leaders are advocating the idea of bringing “destination casinos” to the Sunshine State, arguing the new gambling will create jobs.
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