The American Civil Liberties Union and the Children First Project on Wednesday filed a federal class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court calling for the repeal of a Florida law that prohibits lesbian and gay citizens from adopting children. Lawyers for the plaintiffs charged that the ban ignores childrens’ best interests and discriminates against lesbian and gay parents as a class.
The Fort Lauderdale-based child advocacy organization Children First will represent two Floridian foster children who are awaiting adoption, and ACLU will represent 7 adults, most of whom are lesbian or gay and who have been denied to right to adopt.
One of the couples represented by the ACLU is heterosexual. Brenda Bradley and her husband Gregory are participating in the suit because they want Brenda’s brother, Wayne Smith, and his male partner, Daniel Skahen, to adopt their daughter if something should happen to them. Smith has stated, “We had no choice but to make a promise to [Brenda and Greg] that we would do this. But it’s a promise we currently can’t keep.”
Interestingly enough, Florida law does not prohibit gay and lesbian citizens from serving as foster parents, so many have cared for children for years. Records from Florida’s Department of Children and Families show that almost two thousand children are currently living in foster care and awaiting adoption in the state.
Florida ACLU Executive Director Howard Simon said he hoped that the lawsuit would end a “outdated, blanket prohibition on gay and lesbian adults becoming adoptive parents, a law that is based on little more than ignorance and prejudice.”