Support shrivels for Florida law banning gay adoptions

by on September 22, 2010  •  In Family law

The MIami Herald reports that even if the Florida court considering the constitutionality of that state's law banning adoption by gay parents upholds it, the state will allow the children at the center of the case to remain with their gay parents. The case – In re Gill – is pending before a state intermediate appellate court. ACLU lead attorney Leslie Cooper told me that she expects the court to rule by the end of 2010.

…Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said that even if the Third District Court of Appeal — or eventually the Supreme Court — rules that the adoption of two boys by Martin Gill, a gay man, should not have been allowed, the state won't move to remove the children from his home.

"Those children appear to be safe, well-adjusted,'' Sheldon said. "We're not in the business of doing that [removing them].''

Gill was allowed to adopt the children by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman, who in allowing the adoption, found the state's ban on gay people adopting children unconstitutional. That ruling came in late 2008 and the state appealed the ruling to the district appeals court where a decision is yet to come down…

Sheldon's remarks followed comments last week by Gov. Charlie Crist about the state's appeal of Lederman's ruling. Crist, who has said he supports the right of gay people to adopt children, said he was reviewing whether the appeal should continue.

But Sheldon said the agency wants the case to go through the appeals process in an effort to get a final decision that would make it clear that judges statewide would be able to allow gay adoptions if the couple is qualified, leaving it up to judges on a case-by-case basis.

Sheldon said both sides in the case want finality. “We need an appellate decision to say 'this is the constitutional status of this,''' he said. Sheldon said Crist, despite comments that he was reviewing the case, intends to let it proceed. “We need to allow this appeal to move forward and he [Crist] understands this,'' Sheldon said.

Meanwhile, more trial courts in Florida are finding the ban unconstitutional and approving adoptions by gay parents:

…[A]s the 1977 law that forbids gay men and lesbians from adopting remains under review by a Miami appeals court, [Robert] Lamarche became the fourth Floridian who is gay to publicly emerge as an adoptive parent. He is the first gay Floridian from north of Miami-Dade to publicly disclose an adoption. [Ironically, Lamarche works at a private adoption agency, reviewing prospective parents.]

Last month, in a juvenile courtroom in Broward County, Judge Hope T. Bristol approved Lamarche's adoption of a teenaged boy Lamarche has fostered for about two years. The adoption, she wrote, “is in the minor's best interest.'' The law, Bristol wrote, is unconstitutional. The state is not objecting to the adoption.


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