A Florida judge on Tuesday overturned a Florida law that prohibits homosexuals from adopting children. Attorneys for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum immediately announced the state would appeal the ruling.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and prospective homosexual parents. She ruled that “there is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting.”
The state presented experts who argued that there is a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among same-sex couples, that they are more unstable than heterosexual unions and that the children of homosexual couples suffer a societal stigma, the Associated Press reports.
The case involved the 47-year-old Martin Gill and his male partner who sought to adopt two brothers ages 4 and 8, whom Gill had cared for as foster children since December, 2004.
He was represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union. The attorneys said the case was the first in the nation in which experts in child psychology, social work and other fields argued there is no scientific justification for a homosexual adoption ban.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.
"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge’s decision read. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."
The Florida Family Policy Council criticized the ruling in a Tuesday press release.
John Stemberger, an Orlando attorney who led the recent successful efforts to pass Florida same-sex marriage ban, called the ruling “classic judicial activism” and predicted it would be overturned on appeal.
"Everywhere in the law where children are affected, the standard must always be what is in the best interest of the child," said Stemberger. "What is stunning to me is that when it comes to dealing with gays, that standard goes out the window. The studies are clear that children always do better with a married mother and a father. There are an enormous number of married couples trying to adopt. Some are even going overseas to adopt and these children can easily be placed in families with a Mom and a Dad."
“This judge's ruling is in direct defiance of the rule of law and the will of the people,” he argued. “It is precisely why the people of Florida recently amended their constitution to define marriage, namely to prevent judges from becoming social change agents and radically redefining natural marriage and family structures.
Florida is the only state with an outright ban on same-sex adoption. An Arkansas ballot proposal similar to existing Utah law was approved by voters last month banning any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans same-sex couples, but not single homosexuals, from adopting.
Attorneys for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum immediately announced that the state would appeal the decision, which could result in a ruling from the Florida Supreme Court.