Court Strikes Down Gay|Adoption Ban in Florida

     (CN) – A Florida law barring gay people from adopting is unconstitutional, a Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday. The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami upheld the trial court’s conclusion that “there is no rational basis for the statute.”

     The law states, “No person eligible to adopt under this statute [the Florida Adoption Act] may adopt if that person is a homosexual.”
     The ban was adopted in 1977 and is the only law of its kind in the country, according to the ruling.
     Trial Judge Cindy Lederman found the law unconstitutional in the case of a gay man who was barred from adopting the two boys he had been a foster parent for since 2004.
     Lederman ruled that the man was a fit parent and that adoption was in the best interest of the children, a conclusion the Florida Department of Children and Families apparently supported, despite having denied the application.
     DCF said it “agrees that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents,” and acknowledged that it would have allowed him to adopt were it not for Florida’s ban on gay adoption.
     The two boys had “thrived” in their foster home, the appeals court wrote. It pointed out the inconsistency of state laws that allow gay people to become foster parents or legal guardians, but not 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,” Judge Gerald Cope wrote for the three-judge panel. “All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents.”
     This amounts to an equal protection violation, Cope ruled.
     The appeals court rejected DCF’s arguments that gay people should not be allowed to adopt “because the homes of homosexuals may be less stable and more prone to domestic violence,” and because gay couples often “support adolescent sexual activity and experimentations.”
     The court said the agency based these claims on select quotes from expert testimony that were “misplaced” and taken out of context.
     DCF will likely appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

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