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Decision Overturning Florida’s Gay Adoption Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

Decision Overturning Florida’s Gay Adoption Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

A Miami appeals court ruled 3-0 on Wednesday to uphold a lower court’s ruling that Florida’s gay adoption ban is unconstitutional.

While several states have de facto gay adoption bans by confining adoption rights to married couples where marriage is only allowed between persons of the opposite sex, Florida’s 33-year-old ban is the only one in America to explicitly exclude gay and lesbian people from adopting.

Wednesday’s decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeals upholds a 2008 decision by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman who, upon finding “no rational basis” for the ban, allowed Frank Martin Gill to remain the parent of his two sons whom Gill had fostered for several years and wanted to parent with his male partner.

As per the appeal panel’s opinion(.pdf), the three judges agreed with the lower court’s ruling that allowing homosexual couples to foster but not adopt children undercut the rationality of the ban and further undermined arguments offered by the state defendants that lesbian and gay couples are unsuitable parents because, the defendants contended, lesbian and gay people are more prone to drug abuse, mental illness and dangerous lifestyle choices.

The appeals panel dismissed these claims, saying the state’s “experts’ opinions were not valid from a scientific point of view” and went contrary to the general consensus of thinking in the field which finds that lesbian and gay parents are as capable as their heterosexual counterparts.

From the Miami Herald:

“Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents,” the opinion states. “No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument.

“To the contrary, the parties agree `that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.’ ”

Wednesday’s ruling is unlikely to be the end of this case, with the Florida Supreme Court the ultimate destination.

Florida’s Attorney General Bill McCollum, who recently fell short in his bid to become Florida’s governor when he lost in the GOP primary, was quoted in an interview last month saying he believed Florida should also ban lesbian and gay foster parents.

The AG vigorously defended the gay adoption ban in court. His choice of expert witnesses, namely one George Rekers, came under fire for both Reker’s apparent lack of credibility for the task and a subsequent and much publicized debacle involving a holiday companion who also worked as a rent boy.

As for the father at the heart of this case, the Associated Press reports:

Gill said he’ll take the case as far as he can if the state appeals. The yearlong wait for the decision has been agony, with him worrying “week after week that my kids might be taken away.”

He’s tried to shield the boys, now six and 10, by not discussing that ramifications of the case with them and putting blocks on their TV at home. If the state doesn’t appeal, Gill said he can’t wait to tell them he and his partner are their “forever parents” and they can finally share the same last name. It’s been disappointing for the boys to enroll in school with different last names, he said.

“I’m actually going to get their birth certificates with me listed as their father. That will be a thrilling thing for me.” Gill told The Associated Press in a telephone call. “I think the birth certificates are going to have a prominent place in our house. That will be the written proof of all of this struggle.”

Following the appeal panel’s decision, Governor Charlie Crist has said that the state will immediately halt enforcement of the ban.

AG McCollum has yet to announce whether there will be an appeal.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to nerdcoregirl.

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59 comments

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7:46PM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

Alleleuia!

10:21AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Congratulation to Martin Gill and a great thanks for fighting for your children's right to a loving family!

4:14PM PDT on Sep 27, 2010

Many GLBT people have already raised children successfully for years now. There is NO truthful evidence indicating that children from these families were imbalanced in any way. The xtian fundies love to tell other people how to live and to deny them basic rights. But when it comes down to actually helping children needing supportive families, they are NO WHERE to be found. I guess they're too busy raising funds to deny the GLBT community any rights to exist on the planet. Takes a lot of dough to hire a hit man for health clinic doctors and to perform bombing/burning of clinics, bars, churches & homes. Oh, and more money to cover hiding the criminals and keeping them comfy underground for the next "strike". YEAH for the 3rd District Court of Appeals finally handing out real justice for the many and not the bigotted few.

6:54PM PDT on Sep 25, 2010

What a waste of the tax payer's money; fighting to keep an unjust ban in force. The Attorney General should be persuing more important issues.

Fifty percent of marriages are ending in divorce. Many of the fathers abandon their wives and children leaving them in poverty.
Then there are the fathers who impregnate but don't marry the mothers and abandon them. The so
called, "Pro Lifers" while insisting that abortion should be illegal do nothing for the living and abandoned children.

We should not be obstructing adoptions based on people's sexual orientation. Children need a safe, loving home which these men have certainly provided for them. They showed they were worthy foster parents which should be enough to prove they will be good parents after
adoption.

4:46AM PDT on Sep 25, 2010

They absolutely should be able to adopt. Heterosexual couples are not the end all be all - look who put them up for adoption in the first place. For those against gay adoption - go adopt these children then, rather than leave them to the system.

8:41PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

I guess some people are finally coming to sense.

7:02PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Looks like the court system has failed again. I feel sorry for these children and any other children in this situation.

1:59PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Bravo to the 3rd District Court of Appeals for making a rational decision! And if this does end up going to the Florida Supreme Court, may the Supreme Court be immune to the bigotted pressures of the powerful Florida church groups!

11:48AM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Great news...thanks!

11:13AM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Absolutely brilliant news! I hope the AG accepts he's pushed this unjust and nonsensical discrimination as far as possible. We are all the same at the end of the day: a loving parent is a loving parent, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

By the way, a few months ago news broke in the UK of a report examining families and it was reported that the happiest, most balanced and stable children were those with 2 lesbian parents. The children with 2 mothers outperformed the children of heterosexual couples in all areas tested.

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