Florida’s ban on adoptions by gay people is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday, clearing the way for homosexuals to adopt children there and for those who have already adopted children to live in Florida without fear that the state will remove those children.
Until today, Florida was the only state that expressly prohibited any gay people from being adoptive parents. Mississippi bans gay couples from adopting.
The 3-0 decision by the Third District Court of Appeals in Miami upheld a lower court ruling two years ago, which held that there was “no rational basis” for a statute that “singles out a group for punishment.” Because that decision was on appeal, the ban was kept intact.
Hours after the latest ruling, Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced the state will no longer enforce the prohibition, even though a state appeal to the Florida Supreme Court is possible. Crist, who has supported the ban, said he has softened his stance on the issue. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate as an Independent.
The district court ruling allows the plaintiff, a gay Florida resident, to adopt two young boys he has cared for as a foster parent since 2004. There was no Florida statute prohibiting gays from serving as foster parents.
Last spring, an Arkansas state judge overturned a voter referendum that banned unmarried couples from adopting – a measure seen as intending to prevent gay adoption.