The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

FL Gay Adoption Ban Overturned

I’ve been in meeting most of the afternoon, so I haven’t had a chance to read anything, let alone post anything. But it was nice that the first thing I read when I get back to my desk was that Florida’s anti-gay adoption law has been overturned.

Today a Florida circuit court today struck down a state law that bars lesbians and gay men from adopting (see yesterday’s blog post for more about the case). The court granted adoptions to our client Martin Gill, a North Miami resident who, along with his partner, has been raising two foster children since 2004.

The court ruled that the ban violated the equal protection guarantees of the state constitution because it singles out gay people and children raised by gay people for different treatment for no rational reason. The court also found that the ban denies children the right to permanency provided by federal and state law under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

The court’s decision comes after a four-day trial in October where the court heard from experts on children’s health and development and the justifications offered by the state for the ban. In reaching its decision, the court rejected the false assumptions and stereotypes about gay people that the state offered to justify the ban, holding that many “reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. These conclusions have been accepted, adopted and ratified by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatry Association, the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers. As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”

There’s also a video about the family involved in the suit, talking about how the ban affected their sons.

Now , I know it’s a circuit court, and that it will be appealed to the next highest court. But, in light of recent events, let’s celebrate our victories were were find them

And anytime any offical speaks unequivocally in support of our families, I count that as a victory.

In a 53-page order that sets the stage for what could become a constitutional showdown, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman permitted 47-year-old Frank Gill to adopt the 4- and 8-year-old boys he and his partner have raised since just before Christmas four years ago. A child abuse investigator had asked Gill to care for the boys temporarily; they were never able to return to their birth parents.

”This is the forum where we try to heal children, find permanent families for them so they can get another chance at what every child should know and feel from birth, and go on to lead productive lives,” Lederman said in court before releasing the order. “We pray for them to thrive, but that is a word we rarely hear in dependency court.”

”These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted,” the judge added.

Moments after Lederman released the ruling, attorneys for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced they would appeal the decision to the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami.

…Gill, who is raising the half-brothers with his partner of eight years, said he was ”elated” by the ruling.

”I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life,” he told reporters outside Miami’s juvenile courthouse at 3300 NW 27th Ave. His mother appeared with him in court.

The ban on adoption by gay families, he said, does not lead to more children being raised in traditional households, since foster and adoptive families have long been in short supply in Florida.

Instead, he said, “It results in more children being left without any parents at all. They don’t have a mom or a dad.”

On another note, a ban like Florida’s also keeps birth parents from choosing the people they want to adopt and raise their babies, if those families happen to be gay. In both our son’s adoptions, their birth parents chose us from among several other families because they believed we were the best adoptive parents for them. How do you tell a birthmother she can’t choose the person or persons she feels will make the best parents?

I can tell you, though, after marriage the right will come after our families next. What some people don’t know is that there’s an undercurrent of anti-adoption sentiment in the movement against marriage equality.

It comes right out of their bizarre reductionism in “defense” of heterosexual marriage.

It may be a little bit of a stretch to say that opponents of marriage equality are also anti-adoption, but it’s not too far-fetched when you consider their arguments, which have gotten more extreme following the California ruling. It starts with the “marriage is for making babies” argument that formed the bases of earlier court decisions. From there it’s a short jump to defining “real marriage” based on a penis going into a vagina. It’s a slightly longer jump, but not much, to determining the right to marry based on the ability to produce unadulterated gametes, with which to make a baby.

Actually, it’s not that much of a stretch. It one of the arguments they presented in California.

JOHN EASTMAN:…I was at a conference a year and half ago at Brigham Young where another staunch advocate of gay marriage began by saying, “What difference does it make to your heterosexual marriage if I enter into a homosexual marriage?” This kind of libertarian focus on individual rights as the norm of marriage, the model that we should support – well, we all understand what difference it makes because marriage has never been understood in this country as simply a matter of fundamental individual right. The reason we have marriage laws as a foundation of society is that as members of the society, we all draw benefits from that institution, in procreation and rearing of children by the two people in the universe who are most adapt at making sure that job gets done right: the natural parents. That can only exist most readily in a heterosexual marriage by the natural parents.

The studies that David and Shannon pointed to earlier that say children do better in heterosexual couples [composed of] their natural parents; that model doesn’t work in any other context. It’s not just stepmother and stepfather, it’s not just adoptive parents, it’s anytime there are anything other than the two natural parents. There’s one exception to that, one very close to that is a single mom – not a single mom who had children out of wedlock and the father was never part of that – but a single mom whose [husband] died after the kids were born. That father remained an inspiring omnipresence in the home. “What would your father think if he were still here?” Those children end up pretty close to the par of the heterosexual norm.

They are right. The social science we have on gay couples is relatively in its infancy. There are some early studies out that, quite frankly, are politically driven, methodologically flawed and have been pretty solidly rebutted. But there is no serious study that comes out one way or another on that question, and therefore it’s an open question, whether there’s something about this particular relationship that might mirror the one history has told us is the norm through all these times. What are the consequences if we get this wrong, and why is it so important to listen? We’re living through the consequences of the similar, largely judicially imposed decision of a generation or two ago.

Never mind that the newspapers are full of stories of kids whose “natural parents” were not all that “adept at making sure the job gets done right.”

He’s right about one thing, studies of gay families are lacking in some areas, especially where gay dads are concerned, because it’s a new enough phenomenon that there’s nearly as many studies as have been done on almost every aspect of heterosexual families. (There’s more on lesbian mothers and their families, because they were the “first wave.”) The irony, of course, is that the right makes that claim while at the time time working hard to make sure there are no gay families around that can be studied. Effectively, they claim “We don’t know enough,” and then work to make sure no one ever knows anything.

At the same time, they’re wrong. As I wrote about earlier, 30 years and 67 studies have not supported their claims.

Poor Dick Cheney. He was sure we’d find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We searched and searched, but he refused to give up.

Now he’s discovering what it’s like to be on the other end of such
obtuse certainty. The conservative jihad has turned from Saddam to
Sodom. Moralists are denouncing Cheney’s pregnant daughter, Mary, for
disclosing that she and her lesbian partner will raise the baby
together. The moralists are confident that having two mommies is bad
for kids. And no evidence to the contrary can dissuade them.

30-year search for proof that gay parents are destructive looks a lot
like the hunt for WMD. The American Psychological Association has
compiled abstracts of 67 studies. Some are plainly biased, and only the latest two or three
have avoided the methodological flaws of earlier investigations. But
after 67 tries, you’d expect the harm of gay parenting to show up
somewhere. Yet in study after study, on measure after measure, kids
turn out the same.

One study found that straight parents “made a greater effort to provide an opposite-sex role model for their children,” but it doesn’t say whether this affected the kids. Another says children raised by lesbian couples “were more likely to explore same-sex relationships,” but it doesn’t say they turned out gay. Other studies say they seldom do.

That’s it. That’s the evidence against gay parenthood. On the other hand, three studies say lesbians share child care more equally than straight couples do. Others conclude that lesbians are more satisfied with their relationships, that they show more “parenting awareness skills,” that nonbiological lesbian moms “played a more active role in daily caretaking than did most fathers,” and that their kids are less domineering and experience “greater warmth and interaction with their mother.”

The most recent studies, as I posted earier, also support gay & lesbian adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, according to a new national study challenging arguments that have been used to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

The study, published in the new issue of the American Sociological Review, found that couples who adopt spend more money on their children and invest more time on such activities as reading to them, eating together and talking with them about their problems.

“One of the reasons adoptive parents invest more is that they really want children, and they go to extraordinary means to have them,” Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell, one of the study’s three co-authors, said in a telephone interview Monday.

“Adoptive parents face a culture where, to many other people, adoption is not real parenthood,” Powell said. “What they’re trying to do is compensate. … They recognize the barriers they face, and it sets the stage for them to be better parents.”

… The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing argument that children are best off with their biological parents. Such arguments were included in state Supreme Court rulings last year in New York and Washington that upheld laws against same-sex marriage.

The researchers said gay and lesbian parents may react to discrimination by taking extra, compensatory steps to promote their children’s welfare.

“Ironically, the same social context that creates struggles for these alternative families may also set the stage for them to excel in some measures of parenting,” the study concluded.

It makes sense. Gay people usually don’t become parents by “accident.” When we have children or adopt children, it’s usually the result of a long process that requires a lot of time, effort, and investment on our part.

Of course, the other side doesn’t let inconvenient reality get in their way, especially since it adds up to an argument agains their agenda.

Let’s take this argument a piece at a time. It’s true that two parents
are better than one. It’s also true that married parents are better
than unmarried ones. But those aren’t arguments against gay parenthood.
They’re arguments for gay marriage.

They didn’t let that stop them even when a California Supreme Court Justice called them on it.

Chief Justice Ronald George – appointed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson – put the question in a legal rather than cultural context, asking whether same-sex marriages would violate any rights of heterosexuals. It wouldn’t.

George also bristled when Staver suggested that same-sex marriages should be banned because children are meant to be raised by their biological parents.

“Do you mean adoptive parents are not as adept at raising their children?” George asked.

In fact, as one of the lawyers challenging the ban pointed out, California prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption, foster care and custody battles – so it’s a legal stretch to argue that the marriage law must do just the opposite in order to protect children.

­Like I said, make no mistake about it. They’re coming after our families next. If they can’t break apart the families we’ve created, they’ll do their best to keep more of us from building families.

To that end, the Human Rights Campaign has launched Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Family, as part of its All Children – All Families Initiative. [Via PageOneQ.]

The HRC Family Project’s All Children – All Families initiative is working to ensure that all qualified prospective parents who wish to open their homes and hearts to children and youth have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Adoption and foster care agencies across the country are ready to welcome you in your pursuit of family. Contact one of our partnering agencies to find out about opportunities to foster or adoptive a child in need of a loving, accepting home today!

And, yes, that’s our family you see in the picture. Well, three of us, anyway. Dylan was less interested in getting his picture taken than he was in practicing his walking. So, the woman who facilitated the photo-session held him part of the time.

When we were asked if we wanted to have our pictures taken as part of their effort, of course we said yes!

Their site also features organizational letters of support, a list of resources, and information about the All Children – All Families Database (PDF), and a video.

So check them out, because we’re not waiting for the rest of the world to catch up before we start building our families. We never have. Why? Because there are children waiting

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