Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal’s Judge Gerald Cope states, “Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents. To the contrary, the parties agree ‘that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.’ “
In 2005, Martin Gill and his partner became foster parents to two brothers that the Department of Children and Families classified as special needs children. The two boys, a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old, came to the Gill’s residence with ring worm, bald patches, severe fevers, an untreated ear infection along with other medical problems. Gill and his partner nurtured them back to health, loved them unconditionally and began to receive their trust as caregivers.
As the years passed, Gill began to realize that this placement was not going to be temporary and embraced the thought that he could fight Florida’s 33-year-old ban on gay adoption. He turned to the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida to assist him in achieving such a goal. In November 2008, a Miami-Dade County family court judge ruled in favor of Martin Gill and his partner, deeming them to be the best parents for the two brothers, then ages 7 and 3. The State quickly appealed this judgment.
For the past two years, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami have been deliberating and considering all aspects of the original ruling. Yesterday, the three-judge panel ruled that the ban on gay adoption was unconstitutional because it singled out gays as unfit parents and fathers stating that there was no evidence to show that gays were less effective parents than heterosexual parents.
According to Orlando Sentinel, Governor Charlie Crist commended the recent decision by the appellate court, “It’s a very good day for Florida. It’s a very good day for children. Children deserve a loving home to be in, and the opportunity for judges to make this call on a case-by-case basis with every adoption I think is wonderful.”
Mat Staver, a leading opponent of gay adoption, did not agree, “Not only would it preclude the child from having a mother or a father, but their view of the opposite sex is skewed,” said Staver, founder of the Maitland-based Liberty Counsel, which challenges gay rights in the courts. “My opinion is the Florida Supreme Court will reverse this decision. If they let it stand, children would ultimately experience long-term negative consequences.”
Likewise, John Stemberger, head of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, which opposes gay adoption, criticized the decision, “They ruled that two dads are just as good as a mom and a dad. We know that is empirically wrong.”
Civil rights leaders and activists are joining together to celebrate what they consider to be the first victory of many. Vicki Nantz, an organizer of the One Orlando coalition of gay organizations, Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a gay civil-rights organization, Florida’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and various politicians are all optimistic and excited as to what this means for the future of civil rights.
Click here to read the complete article by the Orlando Sentinel.