Nancy Polikoff

ACLU argues - again - that Florida's ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians is unconstitutional

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | August 27, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: ACLU, adoption ban, Florida, Martin Gill

Last November, I predicted that Florida's ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians was on its way out. Yesterday, the fight to end the ban took another step forward.

Gay rights lawyers are cautiously optimistic that Florida's Third District Court of Appeals will affirm the trial court ruling declaring the ban a violation of the state's constitution.

ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project attorney Leslie Cooper argued the appeal today, Her blog post about the case also expresses great optimism that the ban will soon be gone for good. After 33 years, I think it is fair to say that it's about time.

As always, briefs in support of overturning the law were filed on behalf of all the major child welfare organizations in the country. Here is the long list of those groups. Typically, the court record in adoption proceedings is sealed, but last month the court agreed to the release of all briefs filed in the case. The briefs are not available on the court's website, but they are available on the ACLU's website, along with details about the plaintiff, Martin Gill, and the two foster children who have thrived in his care since 2004.

The numerous briefs in support of allowing Martin Gill to adopt his foster children -- and overturning the ban for all of Florida's lesbian and gay prospective adoptive parents -- are a sharp contrast to the briefs filed in support of the law. The only supporters of the law are Liberty Counsel, the Christian Coalition, a single member of the Family Law Section of Florida Bar who dissented from the Section's decision to oppose the ban, and the American College of Pediatricians, a group founded in 2002 for the express purpose of opposing the American Academy of Pediatrics's support for parenting by lesbians and gay men.

This court will likely rule within a month or so. Then it's on to the Florida Supreme Court. Kudos to the ACLU LGBT Project. They have litigated -- and lost -- this issue multiple times for more than a decade. But they have never given up. One of their losses involved the family of Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau and the children they raised. The state allowed them to continue raising the children as foster parents, even while it argued they were not suitable adoptive parents. Here's a recent news article about their family.

I'm sticking to my conviction that the ACLU will finally win this time.

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Florida has always had messed up adoption positions.

"I'm sticking to my conviction that the ACLU will finally win this time."

I hope to God that you are right, Nancy. This law is repugnant. Btw, what about Arkansas' law passed year?

It's about time this draconian law was overturned. Of all of the anti-gay laws on the books, this is always the one that shocks me the most for it's sheer hatred and fearmongering.

Nancy, thanks for alerting us to this hearing. The Florida legislature did absolutely nothing this year on the adoption issue, so we have to rely on a few equality-minded judges to undo the lingering damage caused by Anita Bryant's wave of terror. As an adoptee myself, I have to wonder how many hundreds or thousands of Florida kids have bounced around in foster homes and group homes because politicians decided to demonize gay families. And this is yet another LGBT equality issue where Obama has said nice things, but done nothing.