ACLU Seeks Immediate Florida Supreme Court Hearing For Gay Adoptive Dad And His Children

December 5, 2008
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers for Martin Gill’s adopted children filed a request today in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals seeking to expedite the appeal of last week’s court ruling that the ban on adoption by gay people violates the Florida constitution.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

“Everyone in this case agrees that prolonging a child’s stay in foster care is not in his best interest.  The trial court found that these children are thriving in this home, and that there is no reason – scientific or other – that they should be denied the permanency and protections of adoption,” said Rob Rosenwald, Director of the ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project. “Today we ask the court to take the best interest of these kids into consideration and not make them wait the extra years it would take for the case to make its way through the traditional appellate process.”

On November 25, 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman granted adoption of two brothers, ages four and eight, to Martin Gill of North Miami, after a four-day trial that highlighted scientific evidence that proved gay and straight people make equally good parents. The decision overturned a 31-year-old discriminatory law banning gays and lesbians from adopting – the only such law in the U.S. – that was put on the books after the anti-gay campaign led by Anita Bryant in the 1970’s.

Lederman noted in her decision that the fact that parental sexual orientation has no impact on children’s well-being has “been accepted, adopted and ratified by” the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers, and that it is “beyond dispute” that the exclusion of gay people from adopting does not protect the interests of children.

The state appealed the decision immediately after it was announced last Tuesday.  If today’s request is granted, the case will go straight to the Florida Supreme Court instead of having to go through a lengthy appeals court process. The state has five days to file a response to today’s court filing, which is not available to the public because the document is part of a juvenile court record. 

In addition to Rosenwald, Gill is represented by Leslie Cooper and James Esseks of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and Shelbi Day of the ACLU of Florida.  The children are represented by Hilarie Bass and Ricardo Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander, an attorney and former District Administrator for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF).

For more information on the case, visit /gill 

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