Florida Attorney General Won’t Challenge Ruling Striking Down Gay Adoption Prohibition

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brandon Hensler, ACLU of Florida, (786) 363-2737; media@aclufl.org
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU National, (917) 302-7189 or (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Florida Attorney General Won’t Challenge Ruling Striking Down Gay Adoption Prohibition

McCollum’s Decision Brings Overdue End To Notorious Law After 33 Years

MIAMI - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that he will not
appeal last month’s ruling by a state appellate court striking down a
state law barring gay people from adopting. Governor Charlie Crist and
the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) had already
announced that they would not appeal the decision. Attorney General Bill
McCollum’s announcement puts a final end to the law after 33 years on
the books.

The appellate
court ruling arose in an American Civil Liberties Union legal challenge
to the ban on behalf of Martin Gill, who wanted to adopt two foster
children he and his partner have been raising for almost six years.

“This law, by
baselessly branding gay people unfit parents, was one of the most
notorious anti-gay laws in the country, and we are delighted that it has
been ended once and for all,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff
attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project, who argued the case before
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. “This victory means that the
thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no
longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give
them the love and support of a family.”

In November
2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman held that the
statute barring adoption by gay people is unconstitutional and granted
Martin Gill’s petition to adopt the now six- and ten-year-old brothers
after a four-day trial featuring experts who established that research
confirms that gay and straight people make equally good parents. Last
month, the Third District Court of Appeal agreed, recognizing that the
scientific evidence shows that “there are no differences in the
parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. . . [and]
the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold
otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by
prohibiting homosexual adoption.”

“We are relieved
that this process has finally come to an end, and that we can focus on
being a family,” said Gill. “Our boys have overcome difficult beginnings
to become happy, healthy kids. All children deserve a chance at finding
a stable, loving and permanent home. Over the 33 years of the ban, this
archaic law has harmed countless foster children by denying them a
forever family.”

“The children in
Florida’s foster care system waiting to be adopted deserved better than
this cruel policy,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU
of Florida. “This ban was nothing more than prejudice propped up by junk
science. We are thankful that, as a result of this victory, the Gill
family can move on with their lives and children trapped in our state’s
foster care system will have the opportunity for a better life in the
permanent homes they deserve.”

For more information on the case, including a video of Martin Gill explaining how this law has harmed his family, visit: www.aclu.org/gill or www.aclufl.org/gill

Martin Gill is
represented by senior staff attorney Leslie Cooper and Director James
Esseks of the ACLU LGBT Project, and Legal Director Randall Marshall and
staff attorney Shelbi Day of the ACLU of Florida. The children are
represented by Hilarie Bass, Elliot Scherker, Elaine Walter, Brigid Cech
Samole and Ricardo Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig, and Charles
Auslander, an attorney and former District Administrator for DCF.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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