A San Francisco gay adoption lawyer and dad has been recognized for his tireless commitment to the issue of adoption by gay men and lesbians by the Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS), reports gay weekly Bay Area Reporter.

Gay dad Charlie Spiegel accepted the JFCS's Fammy Award at the group's annual gala and fundraiser on March 7.

Spiegel has been involved with the issue for more than 20 years. In 1977, Spiegel became a father himself when he adopted his 12-year-old daughter Nora. In addition to two decades of volunteering at JFCS's Adoption Connection, his law practice specializes in helping gay and lesbian couples adopt.

“When the right wing wants to win an anti-gay proposition they involve children,” Spiegel told the paper.

“Families with gay children are at the center of these fights. We need to get out there in an affirmative way and say these are our families,” he added.

Gay adoption has become a heated issue in recent months. Florida's gay adoption ban appears to be crumbling: A bill has been introduced in the Legislature that would repeal the ban and a lawsuit appears headed to the state Supreme Court. Either win would end the ban.

But in several Southern states the march to ban gay adoption continues. Arkansas voters approved a measure in November that restricts adoption to married couples in a state that does not allow gay marriage. This is becoming an effective weapon against gay couples who wish to adopt. During the 2009 legislative session, two states – Tennessee and Kentucky – have introduced similar bills. The Kentucky measure appears to have stalled out after legislative leaders refused to bring it up for a vote.

“I could never have imagined the joys of having a child,” Spiegel said in accepting his award. “It's a wonderful, wonderful gift.”

On the Net: Bay Area Reporter is at www.ebar.com.