Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gay Adoption Ban in Florida Ruled Unconstitutional

Finally there’s some good news on the equality front for gay families in Florida.

A state appeals court on Wednesday struck down Florida’s controversial ban on adoptions by gay men and women as unconstitutional, and Gov. Charlie Crist and the state’s child-welfare chief announced hours later they will immediately cease to enforce the ban.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal in West Miami-Dade said there is no ”rational basis” for excluding gay men and lesbians from the pool of potential adoptive parents, upholding a November 2008 opinion by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman.

Calling Wednesday ”a very good day for Florida” and ”a great day for children,” Crist told reporters his administration will immediately cease enforcing the statute, which has held sway over Florida child welfare policy since 1977, when the Legislature voted overwhelmingly to exclude gays and lesbians from adopting.

”Children deserve a loving home to be in, and the opportunity for judges to make this call on a case-by-case basis for every adoption,” said Crist, who once supported the ban. The U.S. Senate candidate reversed himself after he left the Republican Party and began courting liberal and moderate voters.

First, I don’t think the court had much of a choice; the ban is clearly a violation of the equal-rights provisions of the state and federal constitutions, and singling out one group for discrimination on the basis of fear and superstition is something only the ignorant and the hateful could support. Second, I suppose we owe the Tea Party and Marco Rubio a vote of thanks: had they not driven Charlie Crist out of the Senate race as a Republican, he would not have had to run to the center and court liberal voters, which, cynical though it may sound, is one reason for his switch to supporting gay adoption.

But no matter how you slice it, it’s a win — especially for the kids* — and we’ll take it.

*Thanks, Lark, for noting that point.