"It took 33 years, much sacrifice and many tears but, finally, Florida's ban on gay men and lesbians adopting children has been exposed for what it is: discrimination.
"The Wednesday ruling by a three-judge panel of Florida's Third District Court of Appeal made clear that the law has 'no rational basis' to deny gays and lesbians the right to adopt. The state law was the product of the cultural clashes of another day, back when former beauty queen and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant campaigned for conservative 'family values.'
"Those values today continue to clash from Key West to Washington to Alaska. American families are no longer exclusively defined as those with a mother and father. There are extended families, blended families with children from divorced parents, families run by grandparents and aunts and uncles, and, yes, there are happy, thriving children with two fathers or two mothers and many other combinations of caregivers.
"Judge grants request
"What appropriately concerned the court, which bases its ruling on constitutional rights and the welfare of the children, was the fitness of the parents, gay or straight. In that sense, this case was an easy call.
"Two years ago, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman granted Frank Martin Gill's request to adopt two brothers that he and his partner have cared for as foster parents since 2004 when the boys were 4 years old and 4 months old. In that ruling, Judge Lederman noted that the state's two 'expert' witnesses had no scientific proof. The appeals court agreed.
"'Experts' opinions were not valid from a scientific point of view,' states the appellate opinion written by Judge Gerald B. Cope. 'The children thrived. It is clear to this court that [Gill] is an exceptional parent.'
"This ruling likely won't be the end of the legal fight. Even though the Department of Children & Families and Gov. Charlie Crist have dropped any state objection to gay adoptions, the Attorney General's Office may still pursue an appeal up to the Florida Supreme Court. Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose office produced those two 'expert' witnesses with religious affiliations but no scientific proof about any unfitness by gays to become parents, won't say what his office will do.
"The question for Mr. McCollum should be: What state interest does this ban serve?
"Importance of permanance
"None, except to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, not their fitness as loving and caring parents. Both courts focused on the importance of permanency for the children in a loving household. Nothing more should matter, whether one is reared by a grandparent or a gay parent."