Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bill McCollum drops gay adoption case, so Florida's ban is no more

TALLAHASSEE — Martin Gill and his partner breathed a big sigh of relief after learning that Attorney General Bill McCollum on Friday had announced that he would not appeal last month's appellate court ruling striking down Florida's 33-year law banning adoptions by gay couples.

"This is the first time in five years I feel like we can have closure as a family," Gill said.

Gill of North Miami approached the American Civil Liberties Union in 2005 for help in challenging the law. He and his partner's parental rights were about to be terminated and the couple's two foster sons, then 4 months and 4 years old, were about to be put up for adoption.

"This turns the page on an ugly chapter in Florida history," said Howard Simon, the ACLU of Florida's executive director. "It has been a long, long road."

Since the late 1980s, he said, the ACLU has been involved in five lawsuits in both the federal and state systems challenging the ban.

Technically the law remains on the books until the Legislature repeals it, but Simon said it's dead.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Children and Families had already announced they would not appeal, leaving only McCollum's office, which represents the DCF, to decide whether to ask the Florida Supreme Court to consider the case.

"The constitutionality of the Florida law banning adoption by homosexuals is a divisive matter of great public interest," McCollum said in a statement. "As such, the final determination should rest with the Florida Supreme Court, not a lower appellate court."

But after a review, he said he concluded "this is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination."

McCollum, who leaves office early next year, said he hopes "a more suitable case will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to uphold the constitutionality of this law."

In the tight gubernatorial race, Democrat Alex Sink has said she would support same-sex adoptions, while her opponent, Republican Rick Scott, opposes it.

"What I believe is marriage is between a man and a woman. … I believe that children are raised in a more healthy environment if they are raised by a married couple," said Scott when asked in Wednesday's debate whether he thought homosexuality is immoral.

In the race for attorney general, Democrat Dan Gelber has praised the appeals court's decision and agrees gays should be able to adopt. His opponent, Republican Pam Bondi, has said she supports the ban, but recently refused to take a position on the controversial issue.

"This law, by baselessly branding gay people unfit parents, was one of the most notorious antigay laws in the country, and we are delighted that it has been ended once and for all," said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project, who argued the case before Florida's Third District Court of Appeal.

"This victory means that the thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give them the love and support of a family."

Gill said he and his partner have tried to protect the two boys, now 6 and 10, from the publicity surrounding the legal challenge. But he said "they do know they're part of an important court case."

Because they were still in the foster system, the faces of the boys, who were known as NRG and XXG, were never shown in public. Only the backs of their heads were seen when they appeared on television, for example.

Even though the boys' adoptions now will become final and they have enjoyed certain perks such as being invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll, Gill said he still intends to protect their privacy.

Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

Bill McCollum drops gay adoption case, so Florida's ban is no more 10/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 8:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Officials release names of those aboard plane that landed in St. Pete neighborhood


    ST. PETERSBURG — Officials released the names of the two people aboard the plane that made an emergency landing Wednesday on a neighborhood street in south St. Petersburg.

  2. Spencer: 'A better and more beautiful world if people like me were in power'


    In the a small theater crammed with cameras, Richard Spencer and a small group of his coordinators clashed with reporters as his controversial speech in the Phillips Center drew near Thursday.

    A crowd gathers ahead of Richard Spencer's appearance at the University of Florida on Oct. 19, 2017. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  3. Analysis: George W. Bush's unmistakable takedown of Trumpism - and Trump


    For the last nine years, George W. Bush has largely stayed out of presidential politics; he declined to criticize his successor, Barack Obama, and he chose not to endorse but largely ignored President Donald Trump. While Mitt Romney and others spoke out publicly against Trump, Bush stayed above the fray.

    That …

    Former President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. [Seth Wenig | Associated Press]
  4. Fennelly: Even frustrated Bucs fans hold out hope


    Many fans wrote back when I threw out an all-points the other day, asking if Bucs fans are perpetually in a state of expecting the worst.

    Bucs fans cheer during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in August at Raymond James Stadium.
  5. 'The Walking Dead' marks 100 episodes with Easter eggs in Season 8 premiere


    The hit zombie series has come a long way since Rick Grimes woke up from a coma and entered a post-apocalyptic world overrun with the undead.

    Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead Season 8.