Florida's Statute Banning Gays and Lesbians From Adopting Ruled Unconstitutional


In a landmark decision, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling striking down as unconstitutional the state’s statute that prohibited gays and lesbians from adopting. In a 42-page opinion, Florida Department of Children and Families v. In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G. and N.R.G. (pdf), the Court found there was no rational basis for the statute, and therefore held it to be unconstitutional on equal protection grounds.

The facts of the underlying case were not substantially disputed. In 2004, the Florida Department of Children and Families removed two brothers, a four-year-old and an infant, from their home based on allegations of abuse and neglect. The children were placed into foster care with Frank Gill, an experienced foster parent. For the next several years, the children “thrived” in the household. When the children became available for adoption after the termination of their natural parents’ rights, Gill applied to adopt them. Although the State agency responsible for monitoring the children reported that Gill’s home presented a suitable environment and that he met all the criteria for adoption, it recommended against adoption on the sole basis that Gill is a homosexual. After Gill’s adoption application was denied on that basis, he filed a petition in the circuit court to adopt the children and a trial ensued.

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