Some 30 years ago, Florida legislators passed a law banning gay men and women from adopting. Last summer, a county judge declared the law unconstitutional; in November, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge agreed. And now, as an appeals court is set to issue its own ruling, a senator there — in a state where high schools ban gay and straight students from forming student groups — has “quietly” introduced two bills to overturn decades of injustice.
Democratic Sen. Nan Rich, co-chair of the Senate Children & Families Committee, has put two bills on the floor: One to repeal the 1977 law that forbids gays from adoptiong chidlren, and one that would order family court judges to rule on adoptions based only on ”the best interests” of the children at hand.
The Miami Herald quotes Rich: ”Someone who is a good parent — whether they are heterosexual or homosexual — that’s what we should be basing decisions on, not sexual orientation. We need to be looking at what’s in the best interests of children.”
The Florida Bar Board of Governors voted on Jan. 30 to allow the group’s Family Law Section to file a ”friend of the court” brief supporting [Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy] Lederman’s ruling in the case [which declared the adoption ban unconstitutional].
Scott Rubin, a Miami family attorney who chairs the section, said ”the Family Law Section is very interested in furthering the best interests of children in the state of Florida. The facts of this case make it apparent that what is best for these children is to be able to be adopted by” Gill.
But if Liberty Counsel, a Maitland-based conservative advocacy group, prevails in its effort to get an injunction from the Florida Supreme Court, the Bar’s brief will never be read.
On Feb. 25, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman, Mathew D. Staver, asked the high court, which oversees the Bar, to halt the filing of any brief in support of Lederman’s ruling.
The group is arguing that taking a stand on gay adoption ”places the Bar in direct conflict with its constituents,” since some attorneys feel just as strongly that the 32-year-old law should be upheld. All lawyers in Florida must belong to the Bar, and pay dues for their membership.
”This action by the Florida Bar is completely out of step with the member attorneys it represents and with the vast majority of Floridians,” Staver wrote in a Feb. 9 letter to two Bar officials. “Homosexual adoption is nothing less than a policy which says that moms and dads are expendable.”