Florida appeals court invalidates ban on gay adoptions

by on September 22, 2010  •  In Family law

MIAMI HERALD STAFF%0A A Florida state appeals court ruled today in Florida Dept of Children and Families v. In re Adoption of XXG and NRG that the state law banning adoption by prospective parents who are gay is unconstitutional. The court affirmed an order by a Miami trial court judge granting Martin Gill (in photo at left with one of his children) the right to adopt two children for whom he had been a foster parent.

The court ruled that the adoption ban violated the equal protection provision of the state constitution. Applying a rational basis test, the court reviewed the evidence presented at trial and concluded that there was no legitimate scientific support for the argument that children suffer if adopted by gay parents. It is apparent from the court's discussion that the ACLU LGBT Rights Project team, led by Leslie Cooper, did a terrific job at trial, both in marshaling support for the value of gay parenting and in discrediting the witnesses offered by the state, which included George Rekers, who since the trial has acquired the nickname "rentboy."

Gov. Charlie Christ announced that enforcement of the ban would cease pending any further court rulings. The head of the Department of Children and Families has stated that he favors pursuing a further appeal to the state's supreme court, in the interest of obtaining a conclusive determination as to the validity of the statute. The Court of Appeals ruling is binding only on courts in Dade and Monroe counties, although trial courts elsewhere have approved adoptions by gay parents.

Like California, Florida is poised to elect a new governor, and the election outcome could influence whether the state appeals the new decision to the state supreme court or what arguments it will make in an appeal. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott opposes the ruling and supports the adoption ban. The Dem candidate Alex (Adelaide) Sink takes the opposite position and issued this statement:

I support today's appeals court decision striking down Florida's ban on gay adoption. I believe that these decisions should be made by a judge, who is focused solely on what is in the best interest of the child. For more than 30 years Florida has been the only state with a blanket ban, based on prejudice rather than good sense. As a mom who cares about what is in the best interest of Florida's children, I support the end of this ban.


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