Thursday, November 27, 2008

Florida Trial Court Overturns Gay Adoption Ban; Rejects Religious Objections

In In re Adoption of John Doe and James Doe, (Miami-Dade FL Cir. Ct., Nov. 25, 2008), a Florida state trial court held that a Florida statute barring "any person [who] is a homosexual" from adopting children (FL Stat. 63.042(3)) violates "equal protection rights guaranteed by Article I, § 2 of the Florida Constitution without satisfying a rational basis. Moreover, the statutory exclusion defeats a child’s right to permanency as provided by federal and state law pursuant to the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997." In its 53-page decision, the court approved the adoption of two young boys by Frank Martin Gill. He and his partner have been caring for them as foster parents since late 2004.

As emphasized in a report by Florida Baptist Witness, the court discredited much of the psychological testimony of the two experts for the state because of its religious underpinnings. Assessing the testimony of Dr. George Reker, a psychologist and Baptist minister, the court said: "Dr. Rekers' beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy." Another witness for the state, Kansas State University Professor Dr. Walter Schumm, wrote in an article that: "I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture." The court says Schumm argues that his work, mostly unpublished, "should be accepted over the analyses of well respected researchers in peer reviewed journals."

The ACLU of Florida has links on its website to extensive information about the case, including the full transcript of the trial. Yesterday's Florida Sun-Sentinel also reports on the case.