Today a Florida circuit court today struck down a state law that bars lesbians and gay men from adopting (see yesterday's blog post for more about the case). The court granted adoptions to our client Martin Gill, a North Miami resident who, along with his partner, has been raising two foster children since 2004.
The court ruled that the ban violated the equal protection guarantees of the state constitution because it singles out gay people and children raised by gay people for different treatment for no rational reason. The court also found that the ban denies children the right to permanency provided by federal and state law under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
The court’s decision comes after a four-day trial in October where the court heard from experts on children’s health and development and the justifications offered by the state for the ban. In reaching its decision, the court rejected the false assumptions and stereotypes about gay people that the state offered to justify the ban, holding that many “reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. These conclusions have been accepted, adopted and ratified by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatry Association, the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers. As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”
Gill and his partner of more than eight years became foster parents to the two boys on December 11, 2004. The couple, who had been parents to seven other foster children over the years, was initially told that the placement would be temporary, but a plan to place the kids with their grandmother fell through. Both boys had significant health problems when they arrived in the home. The older boy, who was four at the time, was withdrawn and didn’t speak. Today both boys are healthy, have lots of friends and are doing well in school. The older boy started out behind educationally and had to repeat the first grade, but with the couple’s help, he has progressed significantly.
Here’s a video of Gill explaining how the ban has harmed his two boys:
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For additional information about the case, including copy of today’s decision and a copy of the trial transcript, visit www.aclu.org/gill. Want to learn more about the rights of LGBT parents? Get Busy, Get Equal!