AP article misled on second-parent adoption law

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In reporting on a lesbian couple's adoption of two children, the Associated Press in an August 30 article misleadingly referred to Colorado's new "second-parent adoption law" as a "same-sex adoption measure." In fact, the law does not pertain exclusively to gay couples; it "allows same-sex couples, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives, to jointly adopt children," as the Rocky Mountain News reported.

An August 30 Associated Press article about two women "believed to be the first to adopt children under a new Colorado law that allows same-sex couples to adopt jointly" mischaracterized the "second-parent adoption law" by failing to mention that it does not extend adoption rights solely to same-sex couples. As The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported on March 14 (updated March 28), the measure -- House Bill 1330 -- "permit[s] adoption of children by grandparents, siblings, extended relatives, common law spouses and other adults living with the parent." In contrast to the AP article, which was published by numerous Colorado media outlets, an August 30 Rocky Mountain News article reported, "In May, Gov. Bill Ritter signed the so-called second-parent adoption law, which allows same-sex couples, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives, to jointly adopt children."

The AP article was carried by The Gazette (accessed through the newspaper's electronic edition), The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, the Daily Camera of Boulder, The Denver Post, KDVR Fox 31, and KCNC CBS4.

From the August 30 Associated Press article "Women believed to be first same-sex couple to adopt under new law":

DENVER -- Two Indiana women are believed to be the first to adopt children under a new Colorado law that allows same-sex couples to adopt jointly.

Mary Ross and her partner, Jeannie DiClementi, finalized their adoption of Morgan DiClementi Ross, 4, and Evinn DiClementi Ross, 2, on Tuesday.

"People say, they need two parents. We say, they've got two parents," said Jeannie DiClementi, 57.

The law took effect Aug. 4. Previously, gay individuals could adopt but not same-sex partners. Married heterosexual couples were already allowed to adopt each other's children as stepparents.

Liz McDonough, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, said the state has no way of tracking adoptions by gay couples because the law is so new.

The girls had been living with Ross and DiClementi in their Fort Wayne, Ind., home since May 2006, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday.

The AP article noted conservative criticism of the law, reporting, "Opponents of the same-sex adoption measure said it was aimed at promoting a 'homosexual agenda' and paving the way toward civil unions for gay couples. They said Colorado voters rejected gay adoption last fall when they voted against Referendum I, which would have allowed couples who registered as domestic partners to adopt children." As Colorado Media Matters pointed out, an April 12 News article reported Republican state Sen. Scott Renfroe's (Greeley) comment that HB 1330 was "a remake of the homosexual agenda." That article also reported, "Republican lawmakers said the bill flouts the will of Colorado voters, who last year defeated Referendum I, which would have legalized domestic partnerships and would have allowed gay couples to adopt."

While the AP article continued the misleading trend of referring to the Colorado law as a "same-sex adoption measure," the August 30 News article reported that the law also pertains to "grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives":

On Monday, Morgan and Evinn had no legal parents. Today, they have two -- both moms.

"People say, they need two parents. We say, they've got two parents," says Jeannie DiClementi, who along with life partner Mary Ross, have become the first gay couple to adopt children together under a new state law. "This is a victory for children."

Colorado already permitted adoption by married couples or by singles -- straight or gay. But for singles with partners, the partner has not been able to adopt unless the couple married, which gays can't legally do in Colorado.

In May, Gov. Bill Ritter signed the so-called second-parent adoption law, which allows same-sex couples, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives, to jointly adopt children.

"This law gives children in a one-parent family a chance to grow up in a two-parent home," Ritter said then. "This law will give children a better chance to succeed."

The News further reported that "Morgan, 4, and her 21-month -old sister -- Ross' great-nieces -- desperately needed another chance. Both kids were severely neglected and abused by their young parents, who preferred playing video games to caring for their children, Ross says." According to the News:

In February, a court-appointed advocate for the children presented the judge with evidence that their birth mother had posted their photos on a Web site she maintained featuring bondage, sadomasochism and violent sex. Both parents subsequently gave up their parental rights, clearing the way for DiClementi and Ross to adopt the girls, which became official Tuesday.

"People say, well, they need a mother and a father," DiClementi says. "They had a mother and a father -- and they abused them."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.