Lambda Urges Court to Strike Down Florida's Gay Adoption Ban

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Law is unconstitutional and harmful to children
February 21, 2002

(ATLANTA, Thursday, February 21, 2002) — Lambda Legal is urging a federal appeals court to end Florida’s unconstitutional ban on adoptions by lesbian and gay parents because it disregards the best interests of thousands of children needing good homes and is based solely on anti-gay prejudice.

Leading civil rights and family advocacy groups including the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the NOW Legal Defense Fund, and the National Partnership for Women and Families joined Lambda’s amicus brief, co-authored by Lambda Senior Counsel Patricia M. Logue and noted constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor at the University of Southern California Law School.

“Florida is the only state that prevents all adoptions by any gay person,” Logue said. “This is a senseless law that only keeps kids from finding loving, permanent homes.”

Logue continued, “At a time when all credible experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics tell us lesbian and gay parents do a good job raising children, the state of Florida is out of step with the country.”

Florida passed the law in 1977 to express disapproval of gay people.

“There is a critical shortage of adoptive parents, and thousands of children in Florida who need to be adopted,” she said. “There should be individualized consideration of each child’s needs, not blanket exclusions that only harm kids.”

“Florida’s unequal approach is not only unconstitutional, it harms children, relegating many to a life without any legal parents at all,” Logue said.

Plaintiffs in the case, Lofton v. Kearney, brought by the ACLU, include a gay parent raising foster children. Steven Lofton wants to adopt the 10-year-old boy he's been raising since infancy. Lofton was named foster parent of the year several years ago, but the state is barring the adoption because he is gay. Separate legal claims were brought on behalf of the children who suffer as a result of the ban.

Lambda submitted its friend-of-the-court brief with the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Thursday in support of the equal protection claims for the adult and children plaintiffs.

Lambda is the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization, dedicated to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, the transgendered, and people with HIV or AIDS. Headquartered in New York, Lambda has regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and will be opening an office in Dallas in June.

(Lofton v. Kearney, No. 01-16723-D)

Contact: Patricia Logue, 312-663-4413 x30
Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)


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