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.