Gay Men Lose Challenge to Florida Gay Adoption Ban
Associated Press, January
By Catherine Wilson
MIAMI—Four gay men lost a federal
challenge Wednesday to the only blanket state law banning homosexuals from
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the
men, who are foster parents seeking to adopt children in their care despite
the 1977 Florida law passed in the heyday of Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual
“Obviously we’re crushed,” said Paul Cates with the
American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.
Florida is the only state in the nation with a complete
ban on adoption by gays, whether married or single. The law has withstood
several challenges in state court.
The three-judge panel in Atlanta said the issue was
properly before the Legislature rather than the appeals court.
“We exercise great caution when asked to take sides in
an ongoing public policy debate,” Judge Stanley Birch wrote in a unanimous
decision. “Any argument that the Florida Legislature was misguided in its
decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law.”
Mathew Staver, president of the conservative civil
liberties legal group Liberty Counsel, hailed the decision and the court’s
approach to the issue.
“In this age of judicial activism, it is refreshing to
see a court assume its proper role and allow the people to set family
policy,” he said.
An after-hours call to the attorney hired to argue the
state’s case in federal court was not immediately returned.
Florida argued the state has a right to legislate its
“moral disapproval of homosexuality” and its belief that children need
married parents for healthy development.
The decision comes as states react to court rulings
favoring gay marriage and a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June striking down
laws criminalizing gay sex.
“We think the court is wrong in thinking that the
constitution lets the government assume that sexual orientation has anything
to do with good parenting,” the ACLU’s Cates said.
Greg Nevins, a staff attorney with the Lambda Legal
Defense, a gay legal rights group, called the decision “a grave
disappointment” and accused the court of abdicating its responsibility to
strike down a discriminatory law.
The ACLU expects to take at least a week before deciding
how to proceed. It could ask the full court to consider the issue.
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