November 25, 2008

Florida Judge Rules Ban on Gay Adoption Unconstitutional: Reason Draws a Breath

There are moments when something like reason still manages to push its head above the floodwaters of fear and superstition and bigotry. Things change because sooner or later reason stops drowning and starts swimming.

Such a moment happened in a courtroom in Miami, Florida this morning. A circuit judge ruled the state's ban on adoption by homosexuals unconstitutional precisely because it is unreasonable to deny a right or privilege to one group that is granted to another if there is no sound, rational or — dare I write the word! — scientific reason for doing so.

Judge in Miami Rules Florida Ban on Gay Adoption Unconstitutional

By Amanda Ruggeri

A 1977 Florida state law that bans gay individuals from adopting has received its biggest challenge thus far: Foster father Frank Martin Gill won his suit to adopt two brothers he has been fostering since 2004...

In her decision this morning, Miami Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled that there was no "rational basis" to prevent the children from being adopted. The case, which marks the first time that a gay adoption case has been taken before a trial court in Florida, seems likely to go before the Florida Supreme Court, which could overturn the ban.

Although several states have de facto bans against gay couples adopting and an unknown number of conservative-leaning courts make it virtually impossible, Florida is the only state that prohibits gay individuals from adopting...

...In one successful case earlier this fall in Key West, a judge ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and arose from "unveiled expressions of bigotry." But that case's legal effects were limited.

The Gill case, however, could have wide-reaching consequences. This morning's decision has already been appealed by the state. If the appellate court upholds the ruling that the law is unconstitutional, which seems probable, then the case is likely to go up to Florida's Supreme Court. Even if the appellate court reverses the ruling, the Supreme Court still has the option to hear the case. And if the Supreme Court agrees to reverse the law, that would strike the ban down statewide—without having to go through the state legislature...

...The state's defenders argued that gay people are more prone to a host of problems, ranging from alcohol and drug abuse to depression. Experts on the other side testified that while gays as a group do struggle more with particular issues, so do other demographic groups—but they're not banned from adoption, because adoption is meant to be decided on a case-by-case basis, rather than with group generalizations. Meanwhile, no credible scientific study has shown that the children of gay parents are at more of a disadvantage than the children of straight parents, they said...
Perhaps it's putting the cart before the horse to maintain that gay people are "more prone" to depression and related symptoms than straight ones, no? Perhaps that depression arises from the fact that they don't have the hope of ever being able to get married, to adopt a child that they've cared for, to not be discriminated against. I don't know how the depression rate among homosexuals compares to that among heterosexuals, but if it is higher, maybe not treating them like second-class citizens could change that. I'm sure the same things that apply to same-sex oriented people could be applied to other groups throughout history that have received the same sort of treatment. American Indians, African Americans, and many immigrant demographics have had the same problem and responded in the same way. Some still are.

I think, or at least I like to believe, that things are changing and that in the end the light of reason and compassion is going to win the day. I still believe there's that much good to hope for out of fellow human beings. If there isn't, as a well-known gay man once said, "If it's not love then it's the bomb that will bring us together."

Sphere: Related Content