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Rocky Mountain News , May 15, 2007

Gay adoption is law

Governor Ritter of Colorado also signs measure to base sex-ed on science

By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News

Gov. Bill Ritter signed bills into law Monday allowing gay couples to adopt and requiring science-based sex education standards at school districts offering human-sexuality courses.

Some religious groups, including Catholic Charities, had urged Ritter to veto House Bill 1330, the so-called second-parent adoption bill.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson also called on his Christian radio show listeners to voice opposition to such legislation, saying "liberals have declared war on traditional morality and traditional family values in this state."

But in signing a flurry of 26 bills into law Monday, Ritter said the second-parent adoption measure provides more children the emotional and financial security that comes with having two parents.

"From my experience in law enforcement, I know how important it is for children to grow up in a stable environment," Ritter, who served as Denver's district attorney for 12 years, said in a statement. "This law gives children in a one-parent family a chance to grow up in a two-parent home."

"This law will give children a better chance to succeed," he added.

Previously, only married couples or single parents - straight or gay - could adopt under state law.

During legislative hearings, adoption advocates said the bill would help the many children who live in nontraditional homes by allowing grandparents, aunts and uncles - and a second gay parent - to adopt kids neglected by troubled birth parents. Supporters said the law will make it easier for relatives raising a family member's children to provide health insurance coverage and Social Security benefits.

Ritter also signed House Bill 1292, which requires that public schools offering sex education adopt standards rooted in sound scientific research.

The law advises districts to encourage parental involvement in crafting the standards and to teach that "sexual abstinence is the only certain way and the most effective to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

Critics warned the law will ban abstinence-only sex education classes, but Ritter said it will help reduce Colorado's ranking as the 22nd state in the nation for the number of teen pregnancies.

"Preventing unintended pregnancies, especially among teenagers, is important," Ritter said. "If a school district and a student so choose, this legislation allows educators to help students develop skills that will enable them to make responsible and healthy decisions, including the teaching of abstinence."

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