Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“Forever Father”

Good news on the Florida adoption front.

A Monroe Circuit Court judge has ruled Florida’s 31-year-old gay adoption ban ”unconstitutional” in an order that allows an openly gay Key West foster parent to adopt a teenage boy he has raised since 2001.

Declaring the adoption to be in the boy’s ”best interest,” Circuit Judge David J. Audlin Jr. said the Florida law forbidding gay people from adopting children is contrary to the state Constitution because it singles out a group for punishment.

Florida is one of only two states — the other is Mississippi — that forbids gay people from adopting.

Circuit judges in Florida have found the statute unconstitutional twice before, both in 1991, but both challenges stalled. A Miami case expected to be heard next month may provide an additional challenge to the law.

At the heart of the Monroe case is a 13-year-old boy with learning disabilities and special needs who has lived in his Key West foster father’s two-story home since the Department of Children & Families placed him there in 2001. The boy is identified as John Doe. The father, 52, is not identified.

Audlin appointed the foster father as guardian for the boy in 2006. At a recent hearing, the boy testified he wanted the man to be his ”forever father” — like all the other kids had — ”because I love him,” the order says.

A home study by a social worker ”highly” recommended the guardian and his partner be allowed to adopt the boy, saying the two men provided a ”loving and nurturing home,” provided ”fair and consistent” discipline and are financially secure, the order says.

Miami attorney Alan Mishael, who represents John Doe’s guardian, declined to discuss the ruling, since Audlin has not yet published it formally. He said the ruling is less about public policy than the welfare of a former foster child who wants a father of his own.

”This is a case about a young man who already had a permanent guardian but wanted to have a father,” Mishael said. ”That’s what the case is about. That’s all it’s about.”

The righties carry on about family values and treasure the idea of a two-parent home. Well, it sounds like John Doe has that, and more. It’s time this medieval and vindictive law was struck down. Period.