Court Rules Florida’s Anti-Gay Adoption Law Is Unconstitutional
Today the Third District Court of Appeal in Florida unanimously upheld a 2008 Miami-Dade Circuit Court decision striking down Florida’s anti-gay adoption ban and permitting Martin Gill, a gay man, to adopt two foster children he and his partner had parented for years. Gill is represented by the ACLU of Florida. The plaintiffs presented numerous experts who testified that decades of research has proved that lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people are just as capable of being good parents as heterosexuals. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s finding that the state of Florida had failed to present any credible evidence to support the ban. The Court of Appeal held that the statute, which was adopted in 1977, violated the constitutional requirement of equal protection by categorically excluding lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from adopting.
In August, NCLR filed an amicus brief describing the history of the ban in an appeal of another Circuit Court decision granting an adoption to a lesbian foster parent and holding that the ban is unconstitutional. That case is still pending before the Third District Court of Appeal, which held a hearing in that case earlier this month.
In a concurring opinion in today’s decision in the Gill case, Judge Vance E. Salter also noted a decision earlier this year by the Second District Court of Appeal in Embry v. Ryan. In that case, NCLR represented Lara Embry, a lesbian mother, who asked Florida to recognize a second-parent adoption granted in Washington. The Second District held that Florida must recognize the adoption, despite Florida’s anti-gay adoption ban.
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:
“Today’s ruling, overturning the country’s only explicit ban on adoption by gay people, is long overdue. Thousands of children in the Florida foster care system need loving homes and families. This shameful law serves only to hurt children and discriminate against potential parents who can provide the love and care that all children deserve. We applaud the court’s ruling and congratulate the Gill family and our colleagues at the ACLU for this historic victory.”