ACLU "Deeply Disappointed" by Court Decision Dismissing Challenge of Law Banning Gay Adoption Statement of Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project

August 30, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU “Deeply Disappointed” by Court Decision Dismissing Challenge of Law Banning Gay Adoption Statement of Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project


MIAMI–Today, a federal judge in Miami dismissed the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian & Gay Rights Project’s lawsuit challenging a Florida law which prohibits children from being adopted by lesbians and gay men.

We are surprised and deeply disappointed by today’s decision. We also think the decision is wrong.

This judge admitted that the gay families in this case have the same relationships that biological parents and their children have. But he said that didn’t matter. They aren’t protected by the Constitution.

The judge also said it’s just fine for the state to allow people who everyone knows pose a real threat to children — like substance abusers and child abusers — to apply to adopt but at the same time to bar gay men and lesbians from applying.

With all due respect to the judge, we think the constitution’s promise of due process and equality means more than that. In the next few days, we will file a motion for reconsideration with the judge. We’ll assess our options after he has ruled on that.

From the start, the state’s attempt to defend this law has been nothing but a collection of smokescreens for homophobia. The adoption ban is the lasting legacy of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade in the 1970s. The state defended the law in court by saying lesbians and gay men are immoral and that children should be adopted by married couples.

This was never about whether married couples provide a better home than gay couples who cannot marry. In fact, 25 percent of the children in Florida who are adopted out of foster care go to single parents; in Miami/Dade County, it’s 40 percent. This case was about the fact that lesbians and gay men provide all of the love, support and guidance children need — but because they’re gay, that’s not happening in Florida.

As for morality, virtually every form of discrimination this society has once tolerated — from keeping women from voting, the Irish out of the workplace, Asians out of court, etc. — has been defended on the basis of morality. There are 3,400 children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted. As a result of this decision, many of them will spend their entire childhood being bounced from one temporary placement to another, when they could have had real homes. We’ll leave the question of who is moral to those who made that happen.

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