Movement to ban same-sex couples from adopting: sacrificing the well-being of children

Posted by Dana Rudolph on

"When child protective services took two young children from their home and brought them to Frank Martin Gill and his partner in December 2004, the investigator told the men, experienced foster parents, that the boys deserved a good holiday. The men were planning to move soon but agreed to take them temporarily.

"It was clear the boys, ages four years and four months, needed care. The elder boy was wearing a dirty adult-sized t-shirt and sneakers four sizes too small. He did not speak, and his only concern was caring for his infant brother. Both boys had scalp ringworm and the younger had an ear infection, but the medicines brought from their home had been unused. When the older boy began to speak after about a month, the men learned he had never seen a book, could not count, and did not even know letters from numbers.

"The brothers stayed and the men did not move. The boys developed friendships at school and in the neighborhood. They bonded with the biological son of Gill’s partner and with the men’s parents and siblings. They began referring to Gill and his partner (who is not identified in court documents) as “Papi” and “Daddy.” In 2007, after the rights of the biological parents were terminated, Gill petitioned to adopt.

"The men, however, live in the state of Florida—the one state that bans any gay men or lesbians from adopting. And that has created a dilemma for the courts: either they honor the law or honor their duty to rule in the best interests of the children.

"Despite a positive home study, the Florida Department of Children and Families denied Gill’s adoption application. With the help of the ACLU of Florida, Gill sued the state. (The men felt they would stand no chance if they sued for a joint adoption.) During the trial, the court heard expert testimony from a psychologist who had assessed the boys and determined they would be 'emotionally devastated' if taken from their current home.

"In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled that the adoption ban violated Gill and the children’s right to equal protection under the state Constitution. The government, she said, failed to demonstrate a rational reason for imposing the ban, and the law obstructed the right of children to a permanent, stable home as provided by federal and state law.

"The state Department of Children and Families (DCF) appealed the ruling to the state’s Third District Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in August 2009. The decision has now been pending for a year.

... "Beyond Florida, some LGBT experts and advocates think that adoption could be the next major target—after marriage equality—for opponents of LGBT civil rights. In the federal trial this year challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on the freedom to marry, a witness for the plaintiffs, Dr. Gary Segura predicted that, as fewer states are able to use the initiative process to contest marriage equality, 'the new front line would be gay and lesbian adoption.'

“'I would not be surprised to see anti-adoption initiatives appearing in the near future,' said Segura, professor of political science at Stanford University.

"Equality Florida’s Smith agreed, saying, 'The entire country has a stake in ending [the Florida] adoption ban so that the far-right doesn’t begin trying to export it and expand it elsewhere through the same mechanisms that they pushed the marriage ban. . . . The far-right nationally is geared up to defend and expand this ban and we’ve got to be geared up nationally to defeat it.'

"There are signs of this already. The Arizona House approved a bill at the end of February that would give preference to married couples when placing children with adoptive parents. It is now in the State Senate.

"And voters in Arkansas approved that state’s ban on allowing adoptions by unmarried couples in November 2008. In April, a state circuit judge struck down the ban for that circuit, but the state is expected to appeal."

Click to read the full post: [Link]