LAKELAND — Florida must recognize gay couples' adoptions that were granted in other states even though its laws bar granting such adoptions, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A trial court erred when it wouldn't recognize a former lesbian couple's adoptions that had been completed when the women lived in Washington state, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously. Florida is the only state that prohibits all gays from adopting, but the judges said the U.S. Constitution requires it to give "full faith and credit" to the actions of other states.
While living as a couple in Seattle, Kimberly Ryan and Lara Embry each gave birth to one child. Each then adopted the other's child as the second parent. They moved to Sarasota and then split up, agreeing to share custody.
Ryan then became engaged to a man and cut off contact between her biological child and Embry, saying that under her new Christian beliefs she didn't think the relationship was good for the child. Embry sued for custody.
The lower court sided with Ryan, ruling that the Washington adoption had no legal standing in Florida.
John Blue, who is representing Embry for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said Wednesday's reversal of that decision protects the legal bond between adoptive parents and their children and ensures the stability of those relationships across state lines.
Ryan's attorney, Mathew Staver, said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
"Florida law does not allow homosexual adoptions, so logically they shouldn't be recognized from another state," said Staver, the founder and president of Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal group.
The state is already challenging a Miami-Dade circuit judge's ruling last year that its ban on gay adoption violates the equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents.