Hundreds of parents have finally been able to adopt the children they have been raising but they now have the legal protections only adoption can provide. Others have stepped forward to adopt children stuck in foster care who want desperately to have a permanent family and a loving forever home.
This victory has been years in the making. It belongs to every plaintiff and lawyer who challenged this ban in court over the years. It belongs to everyone who lobbied the legislature and helped shift public opinion. And most of all it belongs to every family that stood up to tell their real-life story and, by doing so, refuted the lies at the heart of this ban.
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Gay, lesbian and bisexual Floridians may now apply to adopt in Florida without fear of being disqualified based on their sexual orientation. This was not always the case.
The Good News -
On September 22, 2010, the Third District Court of Appeals three-judge panel unanimously agreed with a Miami judge, Cindy Lederman, who ruled in 2008 that there is "no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting." They also affirmed Judge Lederman's finding that the 33-year-old ban violates equal protection rights for both the adoptive children and their prospective gay parents.
The appeals court opinion reads, in part:
"We affirm the judgment of adoption, which holds subsection 63.042(3), Florida Statutes, violates the equal protection provision found in article I, section 2, of the Florida Constitution. 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. 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.'"
You can read the full decision here.
The Bad News -
Within hours of the court deeming the adoption ban unconstitutional, anti-gay activists committed to seeking a ballot measure that would place the harmful, discriminatory policy into the Florida Constitution.
Equality Florida has consulted with our sister organizations in other states who have found themselves the targets of similar anti-adoption ballot initiatives. The one resounding lesson to come out of their experiences is that we can not afford to wait a single minute to begin educating the public on the importance of fair adoption policies and how these bans hurt children in need of loving, "forever homes."
Equality Florida continues to work everyday to be ready to defend this victory.