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The 3rd District Court decision that changed adoption in Florida

In 1977, a ban was passed in Florida that prohibited homosexuals from adopting children. At the time, the ban was considered completely legal. But times changed and in now many saw this as a violation of a person's constitutional rights. One of those people was a man by the name of Martin Gill who, in 2008, petitioned the courts to allow him to adopt the two boys who he had been fostering with his partner since 2004.

Martin Gill, as some of our Tampa Bay Area readers may remember, was a homosexual who was prohibited by the state's ban to adopt the two boys who were in his care. In his 2008 petition to a Florida trial court, he argued that the ban "violated the equal protection clause in the State Constitution." The judge agreed but this wasn't the end of litigation.

The state appealed, bringing the case to Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal. Once again, evidence was presented and witnesses were brought forward on both sides, including the testimony of a psychologist who had evaluated the boys and felt that removing them from the home and family they had grown attached to would be devastating and not in their best interest.

On September 22, 2010, the 3rd District Court of Appeals sided with Gill and his partner. And although the state had 30 days after this decision to appeal, Attorney General Bill McCollum declined to appeal the ruling, effectively making adoption legal for homosexuals across the state.

This case marked a major change in Florida's family laws because it finally made the adoption process legal for homosexuals in the state. Like a heterosexual person, a homosexual looking to adopt was now subject to the same standards for determining whether they were a fit parent or not and not denied the right to adopt simply because of their sexuality.

It is thankfully something that same-sex couples continue to enjoy here in our state to this day and one right many hope is not taken away again.

Sources: The New York Times, "Florida Court Calls Ban on Gay Adoptions Unlawful," John Schwartz, Sept. 22, 2010

The ACLU, "In re: Gill - Case Profile," Nov. 16, 2012

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