I’ve written about Florida’s restrictive adoption laws a number of times. Florida is the only state that explicitly bars lesbian or gay people from adopting children. This is an artifact of Anita Bryant‘s 1977 campaign. Sometimes people work around it. There are also several cases directly challenging the law. One of them was just argued on appeal.
Vanessa Alenier has been a foster parent to a boy born in January, 2009 since the child was a few days old. He is related to Vanessa (so the placement might reflect a preference for foster care by a relative.) His mother has been declared to be unfit. I presume that ordinarily in this situation a request by the foster parent to adopt would be viewed quite favorably. Adoption ensures that the child has a legal parent–it makes the relationship between Alenier and child permanent and assigns full rights and responsibilities to Alenier.
But Vanessa Alenier is a lesbian. She lives with her partner, Melanie Leon. And as I said, Florida will not allow anyone who is lesbian or gay to adopt, even if it is clearly in the best interests of the individual child involved, which it seems clear to me this adoption would be.
The state, according to this article, invokes the best interest of children–and that plural (“children”) could be quite important. Though I cannot tell, my guess would be that the state’s argument is that children generally don’t fair well with lesbian or gay parents and that that is the appropriate inquiry rather than the well being of this specific child.
While I don’t think there’s evidence to back-up the state’s contention on this point, either, it’s an interesting rhetorical move, shifting the focus from the one child here (who would surely benefit from being secure in the only home he has known) to children generally. It will be interesting to see what the court makes of it all.