Lawmakers in the US state of Florida debated the ban on gay couples adopting for the first time in 33 years.

Amendments were introduced in both the House and the Senate on Tuesday although both were withdrawn before a vote.

Florida allows gay parents to foster but they cannot adopt children. It is the only state in the US to have such a law.

In the Senate, an amendment was added to a bill which would bar adoption agencies from discriminating against people who own guns.

Democrat Senator Nan Rich said there was no reason why owning a gun would make someone a bad parent, and furthermore, that banning gay couples from adopting was a “far graver inequality”.

Senator Rich has been attempting for four years to remove the ban.

She said: “I know this amendment is not going to pass today and that Florida’s discriminatory adoption ban will not fall today.

“It’s been four year since there’s been any debate on this issue in any official Senate proceeding in any Senate committee and it’s been 33 years since this issue has been debated on the floor of this chamber. It’s about time we did something about that.”

A state appeals court is expected to rule any day on a case concerning a gay Florida man who was permitted by a court to adopt his foster children.

Martin Gill and his partner have cared for the two young boys since 2004. They are still living with the couple but lawyers for the state are attempting to have the adoption overturned.