Despite Romney Claim, Same-Sex Adoption Laws Vary

Mitt Romney claimed last week that "all states but one allow gay adoption," a statistic that came into question Monday.

"I think all states but one allow gay adoption," Romney  told a CBS affiliate in North Carolina Friday. "So that's a position, which has been decided by most of the state legislatures, including the one in my state. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one."

But according to statistics from the Human Rights Campaign,  only 18 states and Washington, D.C.  allow same sex couples to adopt through joint adoption, including Romney's home state of Massachusetts, and in Colorado and Minnesoate, same-sex couples have been able to successfully petition to adopt in some jurisdictions.

18 states and the District of Columbia allow same sex couples to adopt through "second parent adoption," which allows one parent to adopt a child while the partner petitions to become the second guardian.  Same-sex couples in eight additional states have successfully petitioned courts for second-parent adoption in some jurisdictions.

But when it comes to state statutes, Mississippi is the lone state with a specific law barring same-sex couples from adopting a child.

Two states recently changed their adoption laws which previously prohibited same sex couples from adopting.  Florida had a statute in place which did not allow adoption by homosexuals until 2010 when the ban was revoked, and in 2011, Arkansas ended its ban against unmarried couples from adopting, which kept same-sex couples from adoption but allowed single homosexuals to adopt.

Utah statute prohibits couples who are "cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage under the laws of this state" from adopting children but does not include any language about sexual orientation, though it should be noted that same-sex marriages are not recognized as valid in the state.

But many states' laws on adoption by same-sex couples are vague and left to the discretion of judges.

The Romney campaign noted he was referring to the Mississippi statute which prohibits same-sex couples from adopting and reiterated that Romney believes adoption by same-sex couples should be a state-issue, a point he was trying to make in the CBS affiliate interview last week.

Romney has expressed support for same-sex adoption, which he believes is a state issue, in the past, most recently saying in an interview last Thursday that he was "fine" with same-sex couples adopting children despite standing against same-sex marriage.

"I believe marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history and that marriage is literally by its definition a relationship between a man and a woman,"  he told Fox News' Neil Cavuto Thursday. "And that if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child, in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view that's something that people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure of the real meaning of that word."

While he has consistently supported same-sex adoption, Romney has called for an exemption for religious institutions who sponsor adoption services.