Florida AG declines to appeal decision striking down gay adoption ban

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[JURIST] Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum [official profile] announced [press release] Friday that his office will not appeal a decision [text, PDF] by Florida Third District Court of Appeals [official website] striking down the state’s prohibition [text] against adoption by gay men and women. In September, the district court ruled that the prohibition was unlawful because it failed rational basis review [JURIST report] and violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause. The case was originally brought by Martin Gill, a gay man who was denied adoption of two boys he and his partner had fostered for five years. Despite McCollum’s reluctance to appeal the recent court decision, his statement suggested that future litigation seeking to reinstate the ban remains a possibility:

After reviewing the merits of independently seeking Supreme Court review, following the decision of our client the Department of Children and Families not to appeal the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, it is clear that this is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination. No doubt someday a more suitable case will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to uphold the constitutionality of this law.

Earlier this month, Florida Department of Children and Families [official website] also announced [CNN report] that they will not appeal the decision. Florida Governor Charlie Crist [official website] had ordered the department to stop enforcing the law immediately after the court’s ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] reacted [press release] to the attorney general’s announcement stating that the group was thankful that the battle over this “cruel policy” had come to an end. Florida was the only remaining state to prohibit gay adoption.

Gay adoption rights have become an issue of international significance. In September, New York Governor David Paterson [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] allowing unmarried partners, including gay couples, to jointly adopt a child. In August, the UK Charity Commission [official website] ruled that a Catholic social services agency could not restrict its adoption services [JURIST report] to married heterosexual couples and that the discrimination violated Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. Also in August, the Supreme Court of Mexico [official website, in Spanish] upheld a Mexico City law [JURIST report] allowing adoptions by same-sex couples, determining that a ban would discriminate against same-sex couples and would violate the Mexican Constitution [text, PDF]. Last year, the Uruguayan Senate [official website, in Spanish] voted to approve a law [JURIST report] legalizing adoption by same sex couples.

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