The opinion means that Martin Gill will be allowed to remain the parent of his two sons with his longtime partner who they adopted from the the state's foster care system last year, after having been foster parents for the boys for several years prior.
On Monday, the head of the agency that originally asked that the state help defend the law, George Sheldon with the Department of Children and Families, told reporters in Tallahassee (including CL) that he hadn't made a decision on how he would react. "I'm torn," Sheldon said, adding that he had voted against the law back when he served in the state House in 1977.
Sheldon had said that if the 3rd DCA had ruled against Gill, his department would not take back the two boys.
The state's argument defending the ban was considered extremely weak, legally speaking. During the November '08 trial, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum used as one of his expert witnesses Dr. George Rekers, who was paid $300 an hour (or a total of $120,000) to say that gays made for bad parents, even though three years earlier, a judge in Arkansas had criticized Rekers' testimony in another gay adoption case.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox had called Rekers' testimony "extremely suspect," and said that Rekers "was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology."
Earlier this year, Martin Gill told CL that he never thought he would become the face of all of those trying to overturn the state's ban on gay adoption, a distinction that Florida shares with no other states at this time. Gill said, "Anything that excludes a portion of the population for somebody's outdated beliefs is discrimination."
Howard Simon with the Florida chapter of the ACLU applauded today's decision, saying:
"Finally, a piece of 30-year-old prejudice has been struck from the law books in Florida,'' said Howard Simon, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida and represented Gill. "This is good news for the advancement of human rights and the children in Florida's troubled foster-care system.''
But again, the question is will the state continuing to fight this to the Supreme Court? Many legal minds say the ban cannot be addressed with any finality unless that happens.
(Incidentally, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Alex Sink, and Attorney General candidate Dan Gelber, oppose the ban. Republican AG candidate Pam Bondi has said that she would wait to see what the 3rd DCA would rule).