Florida Appeals Court Rejects Homosexual Adoption Ban

By Peter J. Smith

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, September 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Florida Third District Court of Appeal has ruled that Florida’s 33-year-old law preventing homosexual couples from adopting violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution.

The Appeals Court ruled 3 – 0 to uphold the decision of a Miami-Dade judge, who declared in 2008 there was "no rational basis" for the ban and allowed homosexual Martin Gill and his partner to adopt two half-brothers, now 10 and 6 years old, whom they had cared for since 2004.

“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," the judges stated in their opinion. "No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument. To the contrary, the parties agree 'that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents'."

The judges added that it was difficult to see a “rational basis” on allowing homosexuals to act as foster parents or guardians, but then prohibit them from adopting.

Solicitor General Scott Makar and his deputy Timothy Osterhaus, representing the state, argued that it is not in the best interests of children to be raised by homosexuals.

The Christian public advocacy group Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in support of the law, arguing that adoption is a privilege and not a right, allowing the state to make rules as it sees fit for the caring of children in need of parents. They also argued that homosexual adoption would deprive children of the opportunity to be raised by a mother and a father, an environment in which they thrive the best.

Liberty Counsel also pointed out that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a constitutional challenge to the same Florida law on the basis of equal protection in the U.S. Constitution. The federal court in Lofton v. Kearney held that the Florida legislature had “a legitimate interest” in its policy to make sure that adopted children were raised by a mother and a father. The court also said it was up to the legislature to change the policy and not for the court to act as a “superlegislature to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus.”

“Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.

“Moms and dads are not optional non-essentials in the lives of children.”

Gov. Charlie Crist, however, said Wednesday that Florida agencies would immediately cease enforcing the ban, putting the governor at odds with his attorney general, who is fighting to uphold it.

"I'm very pleased with the ruling on behalf of the Gills," Crist told reporters. "It's a great day for children. Children deserve a loving home."

Crist has been very solicitous of courting the homosexual vote in Florida, now that he trails behind GOP candidate Marco Rubio in the Senate election. Last week, he released a position paper embracing both homosexual unions and adoptions, but stopped short of endorsing same-sex “marriage.”

The case will likely be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Gill, wants the case to go to the high court, in order to get a statewide judgment on the law.

Crist said that given the current make-up of the high court, he expected the Gills and the ACLU “would have a very good chance to get a very good ruling.”

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