going gets tough

Why Adoptive Father Hopeful Doesn’t Want Charlie Crist to Abandon Florida’s Appeal

Now that Charlie Crist has flip-flopped on his support of Florida’s ban on gays adopting, he’s got to decide whether he’s going to continue with the state’s appeal of Martin Gill’s lawsuit, which in the last round granted him the right to adopt a kid despite being a homosexual. You might think Gill wants Crist to abandon the appeal, but you’d be wrong.

Finding themselves in strange company, both Gill and Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon want Crist to move forward with the lawsuit.

“Everyone, no matter what side of this issue they’re on, believes there ought to be some finality to a decision, whether that’s a legislative decision or a judicial decision,” says Sheldon, who as a state lawmaker voted against the ban.

And that’s where he’s found common ground with Gill.

At first blush Crist’s flip-flop to support gay adoption might seem to thrill Gill. If the challenge was dropped, Gill could go home to his sons in peace and perhaps not worry that they could be torn away from him. But that is not what Gill or the lawyers attacking the law – the last one in the nation expressly banning all homosexuals from adopting – want.

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida which represents Gill, has said if the state were to drop its appeal, the Miami-Dade judge’s decision that found the law unconstitutional likely would be the final say in that county. But not so elsewhere, and judges in other counties could still turn down gays seeking to adopt.

The ban has prevented most adoptions by gays, but a few trial court judges have declared it unconstitutional, allowing a small handful to adopt. Simon and other advocates want the ban struck down statewide. “He [Gill] is the one that has told us he wants to continue this, to end this discrimination,” Simon said. “He wants to push ahead with this.”

It’s a little bit how activists are approaching the Prop 8 lawsuit in California. If there is nobody with standing to appeal the lawsuit, the Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling stands — but just for California. The only way to get it to the Supreme Court, and make it the law of the land, is to appeal the suit to the highest available court. And hope for the best.