FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | January 10, 2005
US Supreme Court Declines Florida Anti-Gay Adoption Lawsuit Now Up to Legislature to Overturn Bigoted Ban that Harms Children
(Tampa, FL, January 10, 2005) — The US Supreme Court today declined to hear a lawsuit challenging Florida's status as the only state that bans gay people from adopting. Child welfare advocates and social justice groups say they will keep fighting to overturn a ban based on bigotry that ignores what is best for children.
"Democrats and Republicans alike believe this discriminatory ban should be repealed," said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. "Today's court decision places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Florida legislators to see that the best interest of the child is the only criteria guiding adoption decisions."
Reputable child advocacy groups continue to speak out against the ban and have issued scientific research and clear-headed policy statements condemning laws that automatically exclude gay and lesbian people from being considered.
Among the organizations are the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Psychoanalytic Association, National Council of Adoptable Children, Child Welfare League of America, National Association of Social Workers, and others.
"It is beyond credible dispute that sexual orientation is irrelevant to effective parenting," said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "The U.S. Supreme Court should have taken this case in order to correct a long-standing injustice in Florida. It is shameful that Florida law will continue to permit the lives and futures of children to be sacrificed to an irrational anti-gay agenda."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no credible scientific evidence that the sexual orientation of parents has any effect either on the quality of parenting or on the wellbeing of their children.
"Throughout Florida, thousands of children are being raised by gay and lesbian people, either as foster parents or, increasingly, as part of planned families," said Karen Doering, staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "It is time for the Florida legislature to step up and repeal this harmful ban so that these children will be able to enjoy the same safety and security as other children - protections that only legal adoption can provide."
The legal arguments have hinged not on whether the ban is right, but whether a bigoted law is constitutionally valid.
Judge Birch, of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote the majority opinion upholding the constitutionality of the ban, and added a personal note: "If I were a legislator, rather than a judge, I would vote in favor of considering otherwise eligible homosexuals for adoptive parenthood...I consider the policy decision of the Florida legislature to be misguided..."
This past November, child welfare, social justice and faith organizations held press conferences around the state to announce the launch of the Coalition for Fair Adoption, a coordinated effort to repeal Florida's anti-gay adoption ban. The new coalition represents 20 local, state, and national organizations working together to educate the public and the legislature about the harmful affect this law has on children.
The ACLU had been challenging the anti-gay adoption on behalf of three families. Steven Lofton and his partner Roger Croteau are raising five children, including three Florida foster children whom they want to adopt. Doug Houghton has raised a 10-year-old boy for six years but wants to adopt him to make their relationship more secure. And Wayne Smith and Dan Skahen have taken care of several foster children, but would also adopt if it weren't for the ban.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
About Equality Florida
Equality Florida is Florida's largest statewide human rights organization working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. Through education and advocacy, the organization is dedicated to building a state of equal rights for all Floridians, inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.