Supreme Court Mulls Hearing Florida Gay Adoption Case
January 5, 2005
By Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau
Washington—Supreme Court justices
will meet Friday to consider what cases they will hear in 2005. Among the
appeals filed with the court is one involving Florida’s blanket ban on gay
adoption—the only state to have such a ban.
Lat year the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
declined to hear a challenge to the Florida law, allowing to stand a ruing by
a three-judge panel of the Court that upheld the ban.
The American Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit on
behalf of four gay men who would like to adopt in Florida but are prevented
from doing so by the state law. The ban was passed in 1977 in response to
Anita Bryant’s infamous anti-gay campaign.
The key vote by the court was cast by Judge William H.
Pryor Jr. Pryor’s nomination to the eleventh Circuit had been blocked by
Democrats concerned about his conservative views, but during a one-week recess
of the Senate last February, Bush used a clause in the Constitution giving the
president the right to appoint judges directly when Congress is not in session
to put Pryor on the bench.
The ACLU appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court
If the Court agrees to hear the appeal it would be its
first chance to comment on the scope of its 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas
that proclaimed due process extends to gays.
The circuit panel’s decision “reflects an almost
complete failure to absorb this Court’s rulings in Lawrence and Romer that
disapproval of gay people is not a constitutionally acceptable basis for
government action,” wrote American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Matthew
Coles in his petition to the Supreme Court. “It threatens to strip this
Court’s holdings of any principled meaning and deprive them of the
significance that they rightfully deserve.”
In his brief to the justices Coles said that while
Florida excludes gays as adoptive parents, it does allow adoptions by
individuals who are unmarried, disabled, or have a history of substance abuse
or even domestic violence.
But, the state of Florida in its brief to the Supreme
Court said that the state’s law is rationally related to valid state goals
and also uses Lawrence in its argument noting that that case involved private
sexual acts where adoption is a public act and a privilege, not a right.
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