A circuit court judge ruled Tuesday that a law banning gay and lesbian people from adopting children in Florida is unconstitutional. Judge Cindy S. Lederman ruled that the law violated the equal protection guarantees of the state constitution as well as the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a federal law that seeks to ensure the safety and well-being of children in the welfare system and protect children’s right to permanency. According to the New York Times the state attorney general’s office plans to appeal the decision and the case could reach the Florida Supreme Court.
In her ruling, Judge Lederman wrote: “There is no question, the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida’s goal of providing dependent children a permanent family through adoption….The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption,” according to CNN.
This ruling comes at the heels of a defeat for gay adoption rights advocates in the November elections when a ballot measure that bans unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children was approved by voters in Arkansas. The measure aims to ban gay and lesbian couples from being foster or adoptive parents, but also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples. A similar ban is in place in Utah, where all unmarried couples are barred from adopting or fostering children.
In response to the Florida ruling, Martin Gill, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in the suit said that “Our family just got a lot more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving….We are extremely relieved that the court has recognized that it is wrong to deny our boys the legal protections and security that only come with adoption.” Gill and his partner seek to adopt two brothers, ages four and eight, who they have raised since 2004.