On Wednesday, a Florida Court of Appeals ruled on a 30-year-old law related to the adoption of children by lesbians or gay couples. The Court found this law unconstitutional leading the Florida governor to state that the rule will not be enforced pending a decision to appeal the judgment.
The primary issue the Court had with this law is that gay and lesbian couples were allowed to serve as foster parents, but were not allowed to officially adopt children. Due to this inconsistency, the Court ruled that the law prohibiting adoption had no rational basis and violated equal protection rights.
As for now, the judgment affects the entire state and will go into effect immediately. However, the state has 30 days to appeal. At this point, members of the Florida state government have discussed appealing, but no final decision has been made.
This ruling appears to be another step in the right direction for equal rights independent of sexual orientation, at least for now. And while this is only a statewide victory, it may open the door for challenges to other state statutes banning adoption by same sex couples.
As the court acknowledges, allowing gay and lesbian couples to serve as foster parents but not adoptive parents. Instead of this blanket ban, gay and lesbian couples should be put through the same scrutiny as heterosexual couples wishing to adopt, with sexual orientation bearing no weight on the decision. It should be the fitness of the applicants and their ability to care for the child that should be taken into account; some same sex couples may still be found unfit based on these standards (just as some heterosexual couples are), but at least they will have been given a fair chance.
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