- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined without comment to hear a challenge to a 1977 Florida law that prevents homosexuals from adopting children.

The rejection means that Florida’s uniquely worded law — “no person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual” — will stand.

It dashes hopes by homosexual rights groups that the high court would review the state law, which clearly discriminates against homosexuals.

“This case deserved to be heard,” said Patricia Logue, senior counsel at the homosexual rights organization Lambda Legal. “No other state in the country has a law that completely bans lesbian and gay people from adopting children.”

“The Supreme Court, sadly, has allowed the lives of thousands of children adrift in Florida’s scandal-ridden foster care system to be governed by the ugly prejudices of legislators — not even our current legislators, but the prejudices of Florida lawmakers of a generation ago,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which represented the plaintiffs.

However, Mat Staver, president of the conservative Liberty Counsel legal defense organization, said the Supreme Court’s rejection supports other states that might choose to add or strengthen laws against homosexuals’ adopting.

Utah, for example, doesn’t allow any unmarried, cohabiting couples to adopt, and Mississippi forbids “couples of the same gender” to adopt. However, both of these states allow single-parent adoptions, which presumably could include homosexuals.

Ironically, Florida law allows homosexuals to be foster parents. The three Florida cases involve homosexual men who are foster parents or guardians and are seeking the right to adopt the children in their care.

Adoption by homosexual couples or persons is not uncommon in the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual rights advocacy group. Many child-welfare groups, adoption advocates and children’s health organizations support homosexual adoption, saying a parent’s homosexual orientation doesn’t harm children.

Traditional-values groups and their allies say that research overwhelmingly finds that married, two-parent homes are best for children and that neglected, abused and abandoned children in foster care are especially in need of such intact homes.

The Florida adoption lawsuit was filed in 1999. A federal judge in Miami upheld Florida’s law in 2001.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta also upheld the law, saying, “We have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment.”

Florida’s Legislature is the “proper forum” for this debate, and “we do not sit as a superlegislature to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus,” the appellate court added.

The full appellate court, in a 6-6 decision, later declined to reconsider the case.

In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, ACLU lawyers argued that the federal government had a right to intervene in their case because the Florida adoption law violated equal-protection rights for homosexuals who seek to adopt and for children who are being raised by homosexuals who cannot adopt them.

In their defense, lawyers for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) said the law should be upheld because Florida’s interest in placing children with married mothers and fathers has been recognized as legitimate by Florida state courts.

“Florida law is clear on this issue, and [the department] will continue to act in accordance with that law,” said DCF spokesman Tim Bottcher.

In other action yesterday, the Supreme Court:

• Refused to consider former Ohio Rep. James A. Traficant’s challenge to his bribery and racketeering conviction.

• Let stand a lower court ruling that allowed Missouri’s Ku Klux Klan chapter into the state highway litter cleanup program. The state had not wished to partner with the group because it discriminates based on race.

• Declined to consider whether Pennsylvania officials were wrong to keep independent Ralph Nader off the presidential ballot in November.

• Let stand a lower ruling that Major League Baseball did not have to rehire 10 umpires who were still out of work after a 1999 mass resignation.

• Said it would not speed up a decision on whether to consider a challenge to President Bush’s authority to name Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a federal appeals court while the Senate was on a holiday break.

• Asked for the Bush administration’s views in a case that questions whether Utah can keep thousands of tons of radioactive waste out of the state or whether the federal government has exclusive control over the transportation and storage of nuclear waste.

• Rejected an appeal from Indian tribes in Milwaukee who sought to acquire a western Wisconsin dog track and turn it into a casino. Then-Gov. Scott McCallum vetoed the idea in 2001, because he opposed any expansion of gambling.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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