In 2010, Florida’s Third District Held the Law Banning LBGT Adoption Unconstitutional.
In 1977, Florida’s legislature banned same sex marriage and adoption. The Florida statute was the only one in the country to explicitly ban gay men and lesbians from adopting children. This thirty-three-year-old law was repealed in 2010, making Florida the last state to recognize equality for adoption by same sex couples. The challenge arose when a licensed foster parent wanted to adopt the child for whom he and his partner had been caring. The Miami-Dade man fought the Department of Children and Families Services, which wanted to remove the child from the couple’s care and sought the denial of his adoption petition. The gay gentleman prevailed in the Third District Court of Appeals, which, ruling that the ban on LGBT adoption was impermissibly unconditional, held the Florida statute unconstitutional. The LGBT individual’s adoption petition was approved and DCF declined to appeal that ruling.
Still, Joint Same Sex Couple Adoption in Florida Pre-2015 Was Illegal
The 2010 decision repealing the Florida ban against LBGT adoption gave LBGT individuals the right to adopt. However, adoption animus against same sex couples was still widespread. The result for a single gay individual petitioning to adopt a child would differ from that of a same sex couple when they petitioned to adopt.
Thus, before the State of Florida recognized same sex marriage in 2015, same sex couple adoption was limited. A same sex couple could not legally jointly adopt a child but could utilize the process of second parent adoption to gain parental rights. This process was cumbersome and risky. Second parent adoption scenarios would arise when the partner of one biological legal parent or one adoptive legal parent wanted to be legally recognized as the “second parent.” The ultimate decision of whether to grant second parent rights was left to trial-level judges (and DCF) across the state.
In 2015, Florida Legalized Same Sex Marriage, Permitting Same Sex Couples to Jointly Adopt.
In 2013, the Supreme Court found the definition of marriage in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, as a unity between one man and one woman, to be unconstitutional. Then, in 2014, several cases were filed in Florida seeking the freedom to marry for same sex couples. In January of 2015, the freedom to marry took effect state-wide and thousands of same-sex couples finally tied the knot.
At last, in June of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country. The right for same sex couples to legally marry also provided for the right for them to jointly adopt a non-biological child.
Like Traditional Adoption, Same Sex Adoption Is a Collaborative Approach to Safeguarding Family Rights
Any parent can tell you that parental rights are critical, regardless of whether you are a traditional or same sex couple. Same sex couples struggled for equality regarding these rights until Florida recognized same sex marriage in 2015.
Adoption in itself is a collaborative approach to anticipating unplanned events or disputes. Adoption for same sex couples, as well as for traditional couples, is future-oriented, protecting the parties’ rights to raise the child, and the child’s right to a relatively stable home.
The two-parent family is like a three-legged stool; as sturdy and stable as is possible. But remove one leg (or parent) and it falls right over.
Stepparent Adoption for Same Sex Couples Provides a Stable Family Environment
Stepparent adoption arises when the non-biological parent in the same sex couple wants to gain legal parenting rights to the child. This is critical in order to protect both the child and his or her parents in the event of a tragedy. Without it, if the biological parent passes away, the child becomes vulnerable and the second (non-biological) parent could lose the right to raise his child, regardless of how much time he had already invested in their relationship.
In any parenting case, the primary concern of the court is the best interests of the child. Stepparent adoption allows the non-biological parent to gain parental rights while preserving the parental rights of the biological parent.
It also provides the child in question with two parents, instead of one, a more stable future.