The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) urged a Florida appellate court Wednesday to uphold an earlier
ruling that lifted the state's 1977 prohibition that bans gay men and
lesbians from adopting children, The
Miami Herald reported.
Late last year, Miami-Dade Circuit
Judge Cindy Lederman found the Florida law to be unconstitutional and
ordered the state to allow Frank Gill, 47, and his partner to legally
adopt the 5- and 9-year-old half brothers they have raised since
Her 31-page ruling that found the law
to have “no rational basis” was quickly appealed. The case is
expected to reach the Florida Supreme Court.
The Third District Court of Appeal is
hearing oral arguments from ACLU attorneys and the Florida Department
of Children & Families (DCF), which is defending the law.
“DCF is not going to violate state
law,” Judi Spann, chief of staff for DCF, told the paper. “The
attorney general has [a] responsibility to uphold and defend the
Constitution. The attorney general will be representing DCF in this
Florida is the only state with an
outright ban on gay adoption. It was enacted during the infamous
Anita Bryant anti-gay crusades of the 70s.
“Florida's law unconstitutionally
singles out gay people and the children in their care for unequal
treatment, denying many children the permanency and security that
comes through adoption,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff
attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project who argued before the court
today. “We are hopeful that the court will see the cruel
consequences this law has on children, especially those in foster
care who may never know the security of a permanent home.”
Three states – Mississippi, Alabama
and Arkansas – now have laws that outlaw adoption by unmarried
couples. Arkansas' ban was approved by voters in November. While
the laws affect both gay and straight couples, they target gay and
lesbian couples who cannot legally marry in those states. An
effective catch 22 for gay couples.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist has said
he does not support repeal of the law.