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Martin Gill and his partner's many year quest to adopt the two young boys they were fostering, came to a happy conclusion yesterday. The ACLU is reporting the couple has officially adopted the two boys. Said Gill:

“We are thrilled that after so many years, we are officially a family in the eyes of the law,” said Gill. “All children deserve a permanent, loving home. This is a happy day.”

Permanence sounds like something these kids can embrace. ACLU reports the boys have many friends in their North Miami neighborhood, are doing well in school, and are close with the couple’s extended family, which includes two doting grandmothers and Gill's biological son, who the couple are also raising.

 title=From the American Civil Liberties Union:

MIAMI – After a successful fight to overturn Florida’s ban on gay adoption, the two young brothers adopted by Martin Gill participated in an adoption ceremony in Judge Cindy Lederman's chambers in Miami-Dade County Juvenile Court today, marking the final step in their adoption process. Gill and his partner had served as foster parents to the two brothers for six years. Gill worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for the right to adopt them by challenging Florida’s 33-year-old ban on gay people adopting. As a result of the ACLU lawsuit on behalf of Gill, the ban was ended last year.

“We are thrilled that after so many years, we are officially a family in the eyes of the law,” said Gill. “All children deserve a permanent, loving home. This is a happy day.”

In November 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Lederman held that the statute barring adoption by gay people is unconstitutional and granted Gill's petition to adopt brothers. Last year, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld that decision after the state appealed.

“Martin and his family were instrumental in ending one of the most discriminatory laws in the country,” said Leslie Cooper, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Hopefully now, thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will be able to know the love and support of having a family.”

“We are delighted for the Gill family, and thankful to Judge Lederman for seeing that justice was done for Florida’s children,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “The welfare of the children of Florida and their need to be part of a permanent family had been held hostage to anti-gay politics for far too long. We wish Martin and his family all of the best, and we are thankful that the two brothers he has so lovingly cared for will have a permanent home and be part of a forever family.”

The move was made possible when Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum made the decision in October not to appeal a Florida Appeal's Court decision that agreed with a lower court decision that Florida's ban on gay adoption a violation of equal protection and as such, unconstitutional. The ACLU represented the couple in the challenge. From the Orlando Sentinel (10/22/10):

McCollum made the announcement Friday afternoon, a month after Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the state's 33-year-old ban on gay adoptions is unconstitutional -- a significant victory for gay rights and children advocates who had decried the state ban as a disservice to foster children and same-sex couples.

In his statement, McCollum said that while he still believes that the law's constitutionality should be fought all the way to the Florida Supreme Court he was not pursuing this case because the state's Department of Children and Families had decided not to challenge the ruling.

"The constitutionality of the Florida law banning adoption by homosexuals is a divisive matter of great public interest," McCollum said in his statement.

He added that "the final determination should rest with the Florida Supreme Court, not a lower appellate court" but added that "following the decision of our client the Department of Children and Families not to appeal the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, it is clear that this is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination."

Three cheers! One for the Gill family! One for Florida (being dragged grudgingly forward)! One for the ACLU!

 title=

I swear, sometimes these Fundies are like Jason from Friday the 13th. You think you've got them beat and they rise from the grave. We thought we won in the California Supreme Court, think again, here comes Prop 8. We think we won in the Maine Legislature? Think again, here comes Question 1. Think we won on DADT? Nope, Duncan Hunter has another plan. It gets old.

Anyhoo, JPMassar adds this unhappy update.

Miami Herald

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott named David Wilkins, a businessman who helps lead a social service group with strong Christian fundamentalist roots, as the new secretary of the state Department of Children & Families...

Some children's advocates find Wilkins' ties to fundamentalist religious groups unsettling, particularly coming only months after a Miami appeals court declared unconstitutional a Florida law -- the only one of its kind in the U.S. -- that banned adoption by gay men and lesbians.

Both Sheldon and then-Attorney General Bill McCollum chose not to appeal the Third District Court of Appeal's ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, saying the decision held sway throughout the state. Sheldon ordered his leadership team to cease enforcing the ban.

But Wilkins and Scott could challenge the Miami ruling by refusing to allow a gay man or woman to adopt elsewhere in the state -- which could trigger an appeal to the state's highest court.

Florida's Capitol News Service

Florida’s new Governor Rick Scott, hasn’t said if he’ll challenge the ruling, but he did tell reporters who he thinks should be allowed to adopt.

“I believe that adoption should be by a married couple and I still haven’t changed, I haven’t changed,” said Scott.

And now, courtesy of psychodrew, news of a planned State Constitutional amendment, that may be very hard to stop, with GOP supermajorities in the state House and Senate and a GOP Governor:

While the 33-year ban comes to an end today, the fight is not over yet. We must defend this victory against extremists who are already at work to reinstate the ban. The same anti-gay forces who pushed for Florida's marriage amendment in 2008 will likely try to put a return of the adoption ban up for a statewide vote 2012.

Where's their love of keeping government out of people's lives now?

 title=

Originally posted to Scott Wooledge on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 02:42 PM PST.

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