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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 24, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 39
Florida court OKs Gay adoptions
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Florida court OKs Gay adoptions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeals upheld a 2008 decision by a Miami-Dade County judge that the state's ban on Gay adoption is unconstitutional.

The appeals court announced its ruling on September 22.

In a 28-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the court noted that Gay people are permitted to become foster parents or legal guardians in Florida, yet are the only group not allowed to adopt.

'It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilizing homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on those same persons,, wrote Judge Gerald Cope for the panel.

'All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents,' Judge Cope noted.

"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. No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument," Cope wrote.

"To the contrary, the parties agree 'that Gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.'"

Florida's law banning adoptions by LGBT people was first enacted in 1977 and is the only law of its kind in the nation, according to court records.

Florida governor Charlie Crist - now running for the U.S. Senate as an independent - told Miami Herald reporters he thought the ruling was "great," and said he would immediately cease enforcing the adoption ban.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum - an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor - supports the law, however, and is considered likely to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court,

"We note that our ruling is unlikely to be the last word," the appeals panel said, referring to the probability that the state's Supreme Court will hear the case.

Crist said that he believes the Supreme Court will uphold the appeals court ruling.

The case involved the adoption of two young brothers by Martin Gill and his partner. In 2008, the state Department of Children & Families appealed a court decision that allowed Gill to adopt the brothers.

DCF argued that Gay households present additional risk factors which should preclude adoption. These factors, according to attorneys for the DCF, included more sexual activity by children of Gay parents and more incidents of teasing and bullying suffered by children from Gay households.

The long wait for the decision has been agony, Gill said. He told AP reporters he worried "week after week that my kids might be taken away."

Gill told reporters that he tried to shield the boys, now 6 and 10 years old, by not discussing the case with them and putting blocks on their TV at home.

If the state doesn't appeal, Gill said he could hardly wait to tell them he and his partner are their "forever parents" and they can finally share the same last name.

"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 reporters. "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."

The Gill family was represented by attorneys from the ACLU of Florida.

"We're thrilled for the Gill family and we're thrilled for what this means for the advancement for human rights in the state of Florida," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

"What this also shows is how easy it is to pass bad legislation and how many years and decades it takes to remove bad legislation from the books."

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