The same day that Gov. Rick Scott reopened the door to Florida banning gays and lesbians from adopting, the North Miami man whose case helped overturn the ban was formally declared the father of two brothers he's raised since 2004. Martin Gill's sons now have a brighter and more secure future. Bigotry at the highest level of state government should not block that chance for Florida's other abandoned or orphaned children.
In a meeting Wednesday before the state's newspaper editors, Scott reiterated a statement from the campaign trail that "adoption should be by married couples." But he stopped short of repeating another campaign statement that he would fight to keep in place the Florida ban — which had been the only one in the country.
Scott claimed he hasn't decided if his administration would attempt to change the new status quo, reached by three appellate judges in Miami who ruled unanimously in September that the state's 33-year-old gay adoption ban was unconstitutional. The ruling rebuked the ban and the state's defense of it, saying there was no "rational basis" for excluding gay men and lesbian women from the pool of potential adoptive parents.
In October, Gov. Charlie Crist decided to not appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court, leaving open the potential for another legal battle should Scott's administration decide to begin enforcing the ban again.
Scott contends he has not discussed this issue with David Wilkins, a corporate executive affiliated with the Florida Baptist Children's Home whom Scott appointed Tuesday to lead the Department of Children and Families. The policy of the Children's Home is to support adoption only for church-attending Christians who "follow a lifestyle that is consistent with the Christian faith."
Scott's job isn't just to serve Christians or individuals whose religious views align with his social conservatism. He is the governor of all Floridians, gay or straight, young and old. Just Wednesday, the New York Times noted the rise in gay-led families in the South, focusing on Jacksonville, which recent U.S. Census data show has become home to one of the biggest populations of gay parents in the country.
It would be unconscionable to return Florida to an era where it discriminated against a group of citizens — including some homosexuals who serve as foster parents, as Gill did — and in the process deny permanent homes to needy children. The courts have ruled the gay adoption ban unconstitutional. The governor needs to honor that ruling and continue to allow gays and lesbians to adopt.