Federal Appeals Court Upholds Floridas Ban on Same-Sex Adoption

Jan 28, 2004

Orlando, Florida – Today, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding Florida’s ban on same-sex adoptions. Liberty Counsel and the Marriage Law Project filed an amicus brief on behalf of Florida legislators with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, in defense of the law. Liberty Counsel is a civil liberties legal defense and education organization headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

The opinion holds that the Florida legislature properly made a policy judgment that it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity. The Court stated that, “[W]e have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment. Thus, any argument that the Florida legislature was misguided in its decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law. The legislature is the proper forum for this debate, and we do not sit as a superlegislature to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus.”

The opinion noted that under Florida law, adoption is a privilege and not a right and that the state may make classifications in the adoption arena that may be constitutionally suspect in other areas. The opinion recognized that the decision to adopt a child was not a private decision but was a public act. Perhaps most importantly, the opinion cut back on the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas that found criminal homosexual sodomy statutes unconstitutional. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Lawrence case did not create a new fundamental right to private sexual intimacy and that the Lawrence decision did not control the adoption case because the ban on adoption was not a criminal prohibition, but was a statutory privilege.

The opinion relied upon Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief in holding that the Florida Legislature had “a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialization of its adopted children…. By seeking to place the children in homes that have both a mother and father.” The opinion also noted that even though some have argued that alternative child-rearing arrangements are satisfactory, the Court stated that no alternative arrangement “has proven as enduring as the marital family structure, nor has the accumulated wisdom of several millennia of human experience discovered a superior model.”

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, “In this age of judicial activism, it is refreshing to see a Court assume its proper role and allow the people to set family policy. Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father. Hopefully this decision will form a basis for other states to follow Florida’s example of preserving family relationships that include a mom and a dad.”

Read Media Reports on this Case:

January 28:

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Bradenton Herald

Miami Herald

January 29:

Agape Press

Atlanta Journal Constitution

BP News

CNN News

Kansas City Star**

Sun Sentinel

Worldnet Daily


** Online registration required to view this article

(Note - some links may be removed by the news sites after posting -- please search the paper's website for the new location)