For several years I’ve been following the case in which Martin Gill, a gay man in Florida, sought to adopt two foster kids who’ve now been in his care for six years. His case was one of several that challenged a Florida law that specifically prohibited lesbians and gay men from adopting.
The prohibition dated from 1977 when it was enacted as part of Anita Bryant’s moral crusade. It was the only one of its kind in the country. Last fall a Florida appellate court ruled it constitutional. The government did not appeal that ruling.
On January 19, Gill finalized his adoption. Continue reading
Here’s the last word on the Gill case, one I’ve talked about a number of times. There will be no appeal from the appellate court decision. Lesbians and gay men can adopt children in Florida. This means lesbians and gay men will no longer have to engage in complicated (and expensive) workarounds. It also means lesbians and gay men in Florida who have been serving as foster parents can make those relationships permanent.
I was struck, however, by what Bill McCollum, the state attorney general, said in announcing that he would not appeal. Here’s the coverage from the Miami Herald:
“The constitutionality of the Florida law banning adoption by homosexuals is a divisive matter of great public interest,” McCollum said in a statement. “As such, the final determination should rest with the Florida Supreme Court, not a lower appellate court.”
But after a review, he said he concluded “this is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination.” Continue reading
A few weeks ago a mid-level appellate court ruled that the state law banning lesbians and gay men from becoming adoptive parents was unconstitutional (relying on the Florida rather than the federal constitution). Since I’ve been following this story for a long while (just search the blog for “Florida” and you’ll see) I didn’t want to drop it now.
Yesterday the Florida Department of Children and Families (the relevant state agency) that it will not appeal the ruling to the state supreme court. Further, as the story I linked to notes, the Gill adoption is now permanent and final.
This may not be the end of the end game. Apparently the state attorney general can still elect to appeal. In theory an appellate court from a different region of Florida could reach a different conclusion and I suppose if that happened it would open another avenue appeal. All that said, it does seem that finally the fight in Florida is winding down.
[I’m altering the original post to reflect the actual position of Martin Gill and his lawyer, the ACLU. They have asked that no appeal be taken.]
This story (and indeed, this post) is a follow-up on a couple of posts from yesterday about a major Florida appellate decision. You can read those for more details. Suffice it to say, the Florida mid-level appellate court struck down a 1970s-era statute that banned lesbians and gay men from adopting children in Florida.
The question of course, is what happens now. As I’ve written in the past, and as today’s Miami Herald notes, this issue is a live one in both the judicial and the electoral arenas. That’s important to keep in mind.
So who can adopt in Florida today? Apparently as far as current administrators are concerned, the anti-lesbian/gay adoption provision has been struck down and is no longer operative. The implication is that they’ll allow lesbian and gay people to adopt from here on out. Continue reading
I’ve had a bunch of posts recently about Florida’s law barring lesbian and gay people from adopting. It’s come up as a political issue as well as a legal one.
Three different trial courts have approved lesbian/gay adoptions in specific cases. Now one of those cases has been decided by an appellate court. Like the lower court, the appellate court found the statute violated the constitution (that would be the Florida state constitution) and struck down the restriction, allowing the adoption to stand. Continue reading
I’ll add this little note to the end of the current string on the Florida ban on adoption by lesbian/gay people. You can read about the ban (which is a legacy of Anita Bryant’s campaign in the 1970s) in the earlier posts.
There are a number of cases in which the ban has been ruled unconstitutional. Some are on appeal. And now this story from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog says that the Governor of Florida (Charlie Christ, running for US Senate as an independent) is considering dropping the state’s appeal in the case involving Martin Gill. Christ attributes this deliberation to his becoming less judgmental with age, but I’m sure many suspect a more cynical political calculation is responsible.
In any event, it’s worth nothing that Gill (the successful adoptive father) and his ACLU lawyers do not want Florida to drop its appeal. They’ve a strong argument here and an appellate court decision striking the ban would have a much broader legal impact than any concession in the case. I’ll try to keep an eye on this one. It does look increasingly like the Florida ban will not survive that much longer. After all, it’s only been in place 33 years or so.
I’m interrupting my own thread on Schwarzenegger to post this story. It ties back to a post from last week on the appellate argument in another Florida lesbian/gay adoption case.
Ironically, the adoptive parent here is Robert Lemarche, a man who is responsible for assessing the suitability of prospective adoptive parents. The irony here is that because Lemarche is gay, he is himself barred from adopting under existing Florida law. (The law, enacted in 1977, is discussed in the earlier post.)
Last month, however, a Broward County judge (Hope T. Bristol) allowed him to adopt a 15-year-old boy he’d fostered for two years. The boy’s guardian noted that while he’d fared poorly with his two previous foster placements, he was thriving in the home of Lemarche and his partner, Donald Guistiniani.
You’d think such a case would be a no-brainer. What possible purpose is served by denying the child the security that adoption brings? And yet Florida law stands as a barrier to that result. The judge concluded that the law violated the constitution. Notably, it seems the state is not objecting to the adoption. I’m glad to hear that. Surely there are many better things for the state attorneys general to do in Florida.
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. Continue reading
Yesterday’s post touched, really just in passing, on Florida’s restrictive adoption laws. As I’ve noted in the past, Florida law prohibits lesbians and gay men from adopting children. This is a legacy from Anita Bryant’s campaign in the 1977. As the posts I linked to note, the law is currently being challenged in Florida court. It’s also become a bit of an issue in the current Florida gubernatorial campaign.
What is unusual about Florida’s statute is that it is explicitly aimed at all lesbian and gay people. More recent (and more common) statutes bar all unmarried couples from adopting. While this has the effect of eliminating all lesbian and gay couples (because the state’s with this restriction do not recognize marriages between two women or two men), individual lesbians and gay men may still be permitted to adopt. These laws also apply equally to unmarried different sex couples. As such, the discrimination wrought by these statutes is a bit different. (Some of these statutes have been successfully challenged in court.) (Here’s a recent map that gives all the basic info on restrictive adoption laws.)
Anyway, Florida has these restrictive adoption laws–and those laws played a role in the story that was the subject of yesterday’s post. Continue reading
I’ve been following several cases attacking Florida’s ban on adoption by lesbian/gay people. I believe it is still the case that Florida has the most sweeping and categorical ban on lesbian/gay adoption of any state. (A number of states, like Louisiana, prohibit unmarried couples from adopting jointly. This has the effect of eliminating lesbian/gay couples, as these states do not recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. But these states do not prohibit single lesbians or gay men from adopting.)
Anyway, as that earlier post recounts, one of the Florida cases challenging the ban was argued in an appellate court in August. For reasons unclear to me, NPR just ran a story on the case. (The identified plaintiff is Martin Gill.)
If you are concerned about this issue, it’s worth a few moments of your time to have a look. If nothing else, the story told here surely illustrates the real harm done to kids by a categorical ban like this. Perhaps the time is coming that this will be behind us.