Drop in Adoptions Costs Florida $2.6 Million in Federal Funds; ACLU Vows to Overturn Ban on Gay Adoptions

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
September 26, 2000 12:00 am

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ACLU of Florida
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TALLAHASSEE, FL – New information reveals that Florida’s state law prohibiting lesbians and gay men from adopting not only harms children but also will cost the state millions of dollars in federal funds, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has a federal lawsuit underway to overturn the adoption ban.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year gave Florida a $2.6 million bonus grant for increasing the number of children moved from foster care into adoptive homes in 1998. That increase resulted from a special financial incentive the state offered people adopting children out of foster care.

But recently released 1999 adoption figures show a 12.5 percent decline in adoptions in Florida, from 1,549 to 1,355. The bonus grants, under a 1997 federal law, are awarded to states that increase the number of children who are adopted out of foster care. News of the drop in adoptions and the funding impact was first reported in the Miami Herald and verified today by the ACLU.

“Statewide, children are languishing in foster care while they wait for permanent, loving adoptive homes,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “The ban on gay adoption keeps these children in foster care. And now the state is losing much-needed funds because of it.”

Florida is the only state in America that prohibits anyone who is gay or lesbian from adopting children. Utah recently passed legislation preventing unmarried couples from adopting, and Mississippi passed legislation barring same-sex couples from adopting.

In May 1999, the ACLU and the Children First Project filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Florida’s adoption ban on behalf of children who are being denied loving adoptive homes and the gay men and lesbians who wish to adopt them. In recent months, the state has twice asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, but the lawsuit continues.

“This case raises serious and troubling questions about Florida’s handling of child welfare,” said Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

“Mainstream state and national experts on children’s well-being agree that children are best served when adoption is determined case by case, rather than through broad ‘cookie-cutter’ policies like this one. We’ve always known how much this policy hurts Florida’s children. Now we also know how much money the state is willing to pay to discriminate.”

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