The Tennessee Newspaper Network, made up of the dailies serving Tennessee's four largest cities, is out with its latest segment on the positions of the candidates running for governor--social issues. Unfortunately it's not possible to link directly to the adoption question with the answers of the four remaining major candidates. You have to build it by clicking on their names and the feature adds each one.
Regardless, the answers are revealing, even when they aren't. Congressman Zach Wamp and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey give largely similar answers. They both oppose adoption by same-sex couples. Wamp probably through oversight leaves out opposite-sex unmarried couples, but says he sees a role for singles to adopt children.
The answers of businessman Mike McWherter (the only Democrat) and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam contain a bit more nuance. McWherter prefers married couples, but respects the status quo that in some cases allows unmarried couples to adopt. Haslam also prefers married couples, but pivots to his support of singles who provide good adoptive homes based upon people he knows at Church. He doesn't directly answer the question about unmarried couples. It's pretty clear that the adoption ban bill wouldn't be a focus of a McWherter or Haslam administration.
But would it be a focus of a Wamp or Ramsey administration? Wamp hasn't been tested on the issue, even though he has expressed hositility to homosexuality in the past. Ramsey presides over a State Senate that has not moved SB0078, although that's probably in large part because of the high fiscal note on the bill.
And that brings up the question of what role a governor really plays in an issue like adoption. The governor chooses department heads that help set a tone and the administration's lobbying posture on the issue. But governors in Tennessee typically leave these matters to the Legislature to work out. The question for equality-minded voters in Tennessee is whether we want to take that kind of chance. Quotations from the candidates are reproduced below:
Mike McWherter: “My personal preference is to see children placed in the care of loving, traditional families, but I do respect our current system that allows for judges and other authorities to make the final determination on what’s in the best interest of a child.”
Bill Haslam: “I believe that we should work to find a stable, loving home with two married parents for every child. However, I also recognize — through personal relationships with several single members of my church in Knoxville who have adopted — that there are many single, qualified individuals out there who could also provide the love and support needed to raise a child right and give that child opportunities he or she might not otherwise be afforded.”
Ron Ramsey: “I do not support allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to adopt children. Adoption is not an arena political correctness should be allowed to invade. It is a very serious matter and requires the highest level of commitment. Adoption is not an abstract policy issue. It is the most critical moment in the life of a child looking for a permanent home. When married couples wish to adopt, the adoption process should include a very high degree of scrutiny to ensure a positive environment for the child’s future.”
Zach Wamp: “As a father, I believe the best environment to raise children is one in which a married mother and father cares for and raises a child, and this is true for adopted children as well. While I do recognize the efforts of single parents to adopt, I do not support allowing same-sex couples to adopt.”