A Florida appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the state’s draconian ban on adoption by gay men and lesbians is unconstitutional.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals’ decision affirms an earlier ruling by a Miami-Dade County judge that upheld the adoption of two children by an openly gay man named Frank Martin Gill. The appeals court concurred with the lower court’s finding that there is “no rational basis” for Fla.’s discriminatory adoption ban.
Wednesday’s ruling pointed out that Fla. remains the only state in the nation explicitly banning adoption by gay people without exception. The law, the court said, violates the state’s constitutional guarantee of equal treatment because no other group of residents is expressly forbidden to adopt—including, on a case-by-case basis, those with criminal records or histories of substance abuse.
The decision was based on claims made by the Florida Department of Children and Families in the original 2008 court case alleging that children of gay men and lesbians potentially face more “risk factors” than youth raised by straight parents. The court found that so-called expert testimony offered to back the state’s assertions was “not valid from a scientific point of view,” and that, in fact, gay and straight people “make equally good parents.”
"We’re thrilled for the Gill family and we’re thrilled for what this means for the advancement for human rights in the state of Florida," said Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the group representing the Gill family in court.
The ruling faces an almost certain appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which could decide the ultimate fate of the law—and the Gill family adoption.
UPDATE: Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist announced Wednesday that the state will immediately stop enforcing the adoption ban in light of the appeals court opinion.