Tides Foundation Awards $150,000 to ACLU of Florida to End State's Gay Adoption Ban

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
July 23, 2009 12:00 am

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MIAMI – The Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund has awarded a $150,000 grant to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida and its Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Advocacy Project to defend its recent trial court victory ending Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians, and to educate Floridians about the case. The grant funds will pay some of the significant costs of defending the judgment on appeal and of conducting a grass-roots public awareness campaign.

Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians was written into the state’s law in 1977 during Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade, and is the only law of its kind in the United States. Florida law prohibits any gay man or lesbian from adopting a child, even while as many as 3,535 Florida children in state custody have waited to be adopted by a caring family in recent years. Ending the ban would allow gays and lesbians to go through the same meticulous process to adopt a child that others currently undergo.

“Thousands of children are languishing in Florida’s foster care system and there are qualified people ready to adopt them. It’s time to end this discriminatory ban and untie family judges’ hands so they can grant Florida’s children the opportunity to grow up in a loving home,” said Rob Rosenwald, Director, ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project. “Through our pending litigation and the court of public opinion, we will end the ban and bring equality to our state’s adoption policies.”

The ACLU of Florida’s LGBT Advocacy Project and national ACLU LGBT Project sued the state on behalf of a North Miami man and two brothers who he had been fostering at the state’s request for four years – the only stable home the children had ever known. In November 2008 a Miami judge ruled that the two boys, now ages four and eight, can remain with the adoptive father, who is gay. The court’s decision came after a four-day trial in October where the court heard from experts on children’s health and development and listened to the justifications offered by the state for the ban. In reaching its decision, the court rejected the false assumptions and stereotypes about gay people presented by the state.

“Florida’s ban is the most egregious mandated discrimination against lesbians and gays on the books in any state. More importantly, it keeps kids in need from finding loving and nurturing homes,” said Patrick Flaherty, Deputy National Director of the Gill Foundation, one of the nation’s largest private foundations focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights. “Gill Foundation and the other donors to the State Equality Fund were pleased to recommend the largest grant possible to the ACLU of Florida for its promising work on overturning Florida’s ban on adoption by lesbians and gays.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this year shows that there is more public support for lifting the ban than ever, with 55% supporting an end to the ban and only 39% opposing it.

Broad support for ending the state’s ban has grown among respected child welfare organizations as well, and the ACLU lawsuit includes expert testimony from the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatry Association, American Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Welfare League of America and National Association of Social Workers.

Noting the unique collaboration that exists between the organizations working to advance equality in Florida, the same funders who awarded the ACLU of Florida a $150,000 grant have announced a $150,000 grant to O.U.T. and SAVE Foundation. The Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund recognizes how the combined $300,000 will allow for real progress on issues affecting the LGBT community in Florida.

More than 30 national, statewide, and Florida-based community organizations have signed-on to the ACLU of Florida’s project to end the ban, including the NAACP, SAVE Dade, OUT, GLAAD, NCLR and others (full list below).

The ACLU’s victory in trial court was appealed by the Department of Children and Families and a hearing has been scheduled in the 3rd District Court of Appeals for August 26 in Miami.

“No other state has such a flagrantly discriminatory law that denies children a permanent and stable home because their adoptive parents are gay,” said Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida Executive Director. “It is time to bring state policies in line with the research and sound judgment of child welfare professionals, and stop holding the lives of children trapped in Florida’s troubled foster care system hostage to anti-gay bigotry.”

“Florida is a state with many inequalities and injustices.” Simon added. “This is one that we know we can make right.”

More information about the ACLU’s lawsuit to end the ban on gay adoption can be found at www.aclufl.org/gill

The grant was provided by Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund, a philanthropic partnership that includes the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr Fund, the Gill Foundation, and anonymous donors.

About the ACLU Foundation of Florida’s LGBT Advocacy Project

The ACLU Foundation of Florida is freedom’s watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our web site at: www.aclufl.org.

The ACLU Foundation of Florida’s LGBT Advocacy Project has worked since 2005 to protect the legal rights of Florida’s LGBT community and is the leading organization protecting gay kids from discrimination and harassment. For additional information, visit our web site at: www.aclufl.org/lgbt

Collaborating Organizations

Nationwide organizations:

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD),
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR),
Unity Coalition, and
Anti-Defamation League.

Statewide organizations:

Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
Organizations United Together (OUT),
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW),
Saving Our Children’s Rights (SOCR), and
Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

Local organizations:

SAVE (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone) Dade,
South Florida Family Pride, OneOrlando.Org,
The Center (Orlando),
Planned Parenthood of Orlando,
Metropolitan Business Association (Orlando),
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council,
Center on Children and Families of the University of Florida’s Levin School of Law,
Human Rights Council of North Central Florida,
PFLAG’s Pensacola/Emerald Chapter,
Health Psychology Research Lab of the University of West Florida,
Gay-Straight Alliance at University of West Florida,
Unitarian Universalist Church of Pensacola,
Guys Empowered and Remaining Safe (Pensacola area),
Movement for Change (Pensacola area),
Emerald Coast Pride (Florida’s Panhandle), and
Red Ribbon Foundation (north west Florida).

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