Child Advocacy Groups Urge Florida Appeals Court To Strike Gay Adoption Ban

June 23, 2009

Groups File Briefs In ACLU Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

MIAMI – The most respected Florida and national children’s health, welfare and legal advocacy groups filed seven friend-of-the-court briefs before a Florida appeals court Monday urging the court to strike down a Florida law barring lesbians and gay men from adopting. The briefs were filed in support of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that resulted in a Florida juvenile court judge striking down the law and granting the adoptions of two brothers to a gay man who has been raising the boys with his partner for more than four years.

“The Florida law banning lesbians and gay men from adopting cripples efforts to find families for the approximately 3,500 foster children the State reported were in need of homes and leaves some children without the security of adoption and having a ‘forever family,’” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff lawyer with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “It’s not surprising that so many prominent children’s advocates are stepping up to let the court know just how harmful this law is to children.”

On November 25, 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman granted the adoptions of two brothers, ages four and eight, to Martin Gill of North Miami, after a four-day trial that highlighted scientific evidence that gay and straight people make equally good parents. Gill and his partner have been foster parents to the two boys for more than four years, and the boys are thriving under their care.

The decision overturned Florida’s 31-year-old law banning gays and lesbians from adopting that was enacted in response to an anti-gay campaign led by Anita Bryant. The state immediately appealed the decision, and the case is now pending before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. The ACLU’s brief on behalf of Gill and the brief of the children’s counsel were filed on June 15, 2009.

Because the court file is sealed, copies of briefs in the case cannot be provided without an order of the court. The friend-of-the-court briefs were filed by children’s advocates from across the nation, including:

Children’s Health and Welfare Groups
  • The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
  • American Psychological Association
  • North American Council on Adoptable Children
  • Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
  • Center for Adoption Policy
  • Foster Care Alumni of America
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
  • Florida Chapter of the NASW
  • Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Legal Advocates for Children
  • National Center for Adoption Law and Policy
  • Juvenile Law Center
  • Lawyers for Children America
  • National Center for Youth Law
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
  • Foster Children’s Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
  • University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law Center on Children and Families Children & Youth Law Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law
  • Florida State University College of Law Public Interest Law Center
  • Florida International University Juvenile Justice Clinic
  • The Barry University School of Law Children and Families Clinic
  • The Nova Southeastern University Law Center Children and Families Clinic
  • Child Advocacy Clinic at Hofstra School of Law
  • Ohio State University School of Law
  • Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center
  • Loyola Chicago School of Law
  • Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
  • Justice for Children Project
  • Support Center for Child Advocates
  • Civitas Child Law Clinic
  • Children and Family Justice Center of the Bluhm Legal Clinic of Northwestern University School of Law

A date has not yet been set for oral argument before the Third District Court of Appeal. For more information on the case, including a video of Martin Gill explaining how this law has harmed his family, visit /gill

Martin Gill is represented by Co-Director James Esseks and senior staff attorney Leslie Cooper of the ACLU LGBT Project and LGBT Project Director Robert Rosenwald and staff attorney Shelbi Day of the ACLU of Florida. The children are represented by Hilarie Bass, Elliot Scherker, Elaine Walter and Brigid Cech Samole of Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander, an attorney and former District Administrator for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF).

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