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Today is Wednesday, November 28, 2007


State Backs Gay Adoption Ban

[ATLANTA, GA] - The Florida Legislature has the authority to forbid gay men and lesbians from adopting children, lawyers for the state wrote in a brief filed in a federal appeals court here.

The attorneys argued that, just as Florida limits the legal number of spouses and recognizes only heterosexual marriages, it is well within the Legislature?s purview to allow only heterosexuals to adopt, to "further the public moral sense."

The brief was filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Monday, responding to the appeal from a federal district judge's ruling in Miami that the law is valid. Florida is the only state in the nation that has a blanket prohibition against adoption by all gay people, whether married or single. Two other states -- Mississippi and Utah -- prohibit only gay couples from adopting.

The ban was passed in 1977 at a time when entertainer Anita Bryant went on a crusade against a Miami-Dade County ordinance protecting residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Five gay men who have been foster parents or guardians to Florida children filed a lawsuit in federal court last year seeking to overturn the law. They claimed it discriminates against gay people who want to be parents and the children who want to be adopted by them. The men say they are suing for the legal rights and security an adoption would give them and the children, who are all either disabled or HIV-positive.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is also named as a defendant because that agency decides who can be foster parents and who can adopt the 3,400 children who have been removed from abusive and neglectful homes. The plaintiffs say the law unfairly limits the pool of stable homes for these children.

This lawsuit marked the first time the state law has been challenged in federal court. Attempts to have it declared unconstitutional in state court have failed.

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