Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Gay adoption ban ruled unconstitutional in Florida!
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."
She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.
Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. Arkansas voters last month approved a measure similar to a law in Utah that bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.
The ruling means that Martin Gill, 47, and his male partner can adopt two brothers, ages 4 and 8, whom he has cared for as foster children since December 2004.
Does the Mississippi law make any sense whatsoever to anyone?
The Miami Herald also has the story and some photographs, as well as a poll to freep. Key quote from the article:
''These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted,'' the judge added.
Of course, that's totally irrelevant, right?
There will be an appeal.
Addendum: Damn! I posted before I got to the bottom of the article. There's some great stuff in there, and there's a link to the 30 page judgment. Apparently there was a similar ruling in another court.
In August, Monroe Circuit Judge David John Audlin Jr. wrote that Florida's 1977 gay adoption ban arose out of ''unveiled expressions of bigotry'' when the state was experiencing a severe backlash to demands for civil rights by gay people in Miami.
Wasn't Florida Anita Bryant's stomping grounds?
The ruling may hold because it's based upon the rights of the children, not simply the parents.
''Disqualifying every gay Floridian from raising a family, enjoying grandchildren or carrying on the family name, based on nothing more than lawful sexual conduct, while assuring child abusers, terrorists, drug dealers, rapists and murderers at least individualized consideration, `` Audlin wrote, was so ``disproportionately severe'' that it violates the state and U.S. Constitutions.
In her ruling, Lederman said children taken into state care have a ''fundamental'' right to be raised in a permanent adoptive home if they cannot be reunited with birth parents. Children whose foster parents are gay, she said, can be deprived of that right under the current law.
''The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect,'' Lederman wrote.
The judge added: ``There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption.''
This is significant, because the factual finding that children are actually deprived parents by virtue of the ban should beef up the strength of the ruling considerably. The ban runs afoul of the children's due process rights, but also the state policy to put children into stable families.
The Herald slights the ruling in the following passage, but she simply summarized the evidence provided to her. The finding is that the ban hurts children.
In a ruling that, at times, reads more like a social science research paper, Lederman dissected 30 years worth of psychological and sociological research, concluding that studies overwhelmingly have shown that gay people can parent every bit as effectively as straight people and do no harm to their children.
''Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad,'' Lederman wrote, ``it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic.
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
Like anything I say matters, right?
Is that the United States or Communist China?
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