A Miami gay couple fighting to adopt two boys won an important victory for themselves and couples across the state Wednesday when an appeals court declared Florida's law banning adoption by gays unconstitutional.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami issued its unanimous decision Wednesday morning, which allows Martin Gill and his long-time partner to adopt two brothers.
Gill and his partner, who live in North Miami, have been foster parents to the brothers since 2004. A 1977 law banned gay adoption.
"We're thrilled for the Gill family and we're thrilled for what this means for the advancment for human rights in the state of Florida," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which represented Gill. "What this also shows is how easy it is to pass bad legislation and how many years and decades it takes to remove bad legislation from the books."
Wednesday's ruling affirmed a Miami-Dade County judge's 2008 ruling that the ban was unconstitutional. The state had appealed that decision.
In a 28-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the court noted that gay people are permitted to become foster parents or legal guardians in Florida, yet are the only group not allowed to adopt.
"It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilizing homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on those same persons," wrote Judge Gerald Cope for the panel. "All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents."
The case is expected to go to the state Supreme Court next.