Activists in Florida say they are
optimistic about an imminent gay adoption ruling.
The case involves Martin Gill, a
47-year-old flight attendant who has been fighting for the right to
adopt two foster children he and his partner have been raising for
the past five years.
Florida is the only state that bans gay
men and lesbians from adopting children outright. Lawmakers approved
the measure in 1977. Laws that limit adoption to married couples
have recently taken effect in several states that ban gay marriage,
including most recently in Arkansas.
In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit
Judge Cindy Lederman found the Florida law to be unconstitutional and
ordered the state to allow Gill and his partner to legally adopt the
5- and 9-year-old half brothers.
Gill and his partner were lauded as
exemplary foster parents by Department of Children and Families
workers who testified at the trial.
Still, Lederman's 31-page ruling, which
found the law to have “no rational basis,” was quickly appealed
to the Third District Court of Appeals. The court heard the case
last August and a ruling is expected any day now.
The ACLU of Florida, which is
representing Gill in the case, said it's confident of a win.
“We put on the best case that science
had to offer, refuting every one of the bizarre rationales offered by
the state to support the ban,” Robert F. Rosenwald, Jr., director
of the ACLU's LGBT Advocacy Project, said in an email. “We're
optimistic that the appeals court, based on this evidence, will
affirm Judge Lederman's decision invalidating the ban.”
“A positive decision in the
intermediate appellate court would mean that we are one step closer
to getting rid of this shameful law that treats gay people like
second class citizens and denies homes to children who desperately
need them,” he added.
CJ Ortuno, executive director of SAVE
Dade, a Miami-based gay rights group, agreed.
“I am optimistic,” Ortuno told On
Top Magazine in an interview Monday. “You've got to be, in a
case like this that can change the game. It could lift this
30-plus-year old ban and help place possibly 1,000 children in good
homes per year.”
Several activists were not so eager to
speak about the case, saying they would prefer to wait for the
ruling. But R. Zeke Fread, west central director of Stand-Up
Florida, said activists he knew were stoked about taking the case
to the Florida Supreme Court.
Fread said Gill appeared upbeat during
a recent ACLU event on the issue.
“I'm confident we will win, but not
so confident that I'm not nervous on those Wednesday mornings,”
Gill, referring to the court's customary day to post rulings on the
Internet, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Both Ortuno and Fread cited overturning
the gay adoption ban as a priority for Florida activists.
“It's farther along than other issues
such as relationship recognition or civil unions or marriage equality
are, especially with the passage of Amendment 2,” Ortuno said
referring to the state's gay marriage ban.
The ACLU recently enlisted the help of
Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon to kick off a three-year
campaign to end Florida's ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians.
The outreach campaign consisting of town-hall style meetings and
marketing efforts is designed to build public support for the issue.
Repeal of the ban remains a goal, but
activists concede approval of a repeal bill remains a hard sell in
Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature. Two Democratic
lawmakers – Senator Nan Rich and Representative Mary Brandenburg –
have sponsored repeal legislation.
Proponents of the ban say the policy
assures adopted children of both a father and a mother.