The Decision Moves Florida One Step Closer to Adoption Equality
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hailed the Florida State Supreme Court’s decision to open up state adoptions to LGB persons. The ruling came in the case In the Matter of the Adoption of James Doe and John Doe. The decision upholds the right of Martin Gill and his partner of eight years to adopt two brothers that they have been raising as foster parents for the past six years. HRC also congratulates and thanks the American Civil Liberties Union for their work in providing representation to Gill and his family.
“We are extremely pleased the Florida Third District Court of Appeals found what we knew all along – that loving gay and lesbian parents are just as fit to raise children as their straight counterparts,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Too many children are in need of a loving home. For the sake of the kids, we applaud the court’s decision.”
The Florida Third District Court of Appeals issued its decision, ruling unanimously in favor of upholding a lower court decision in the case that stated that a state law prohibiting adoption by gays and lesbians, in place since 1977, violates the state constitution. The court focused on the importance of permanency that gay and lesbian households can provide to children and that such discrimination was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, finding that the ban furthered no legitimate state interest.
Since the court’s decision struck down a Florida state law, the Florida Supreme Court must hear any appeal brought before it. HRC strongly encourages the Florida State Supreme Court to uphold the intermediate court’s opinion and declare the adoption ban unconstitutional.
The victory, pending the appeal, leaves Mississippi and Utah as the only states with adoption bans for same-sex couples. State courts in Michigan have ruled that unmarried individuals may not jointly petition to adopt. On Nov. 4, 2008, Arkansas voters approved a statutory ban on adoption and foster parenting by unmarried individuals cohabiting with a sexual partner. The Arkansas ban was declared unconstitutional by the Pulaski County Circuit Court in 2010, but has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.
This case does not address whether joint-adoptions or second parent adoptions will be permitted for same-sex couples. Joint-adoptions take place when both members of a same-sex couple adopt a child from a biological parent or a child that is in the state’s care. Second-parent adoptions are where an individual is allowed to petition for adoption of their partner’s legal child.
For an electronic map showing where adoption equality stands in the states, please visit: http://www.hrc.org/documents/parenting_laws_maps.pdf.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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