United States Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Constitutionality of Florida's Ban on Same-Sex Adoption

Jan 10, 2005

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal in a case challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s ban on same-sex adoption. The Court’s refusal to consider the case marks the end of a challenge seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional. Liberty Counsel and the Marriage Law Project filed an amicus brief on behalf of Florida legislators with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, in defense of the law, and the Eleventh Circuit found the law constitutional on January 28, 2004. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny review causes the Eleventh Circuit ruling upholding the law to remain in effect and provides support for states which have bans regarding adoption of children by homosexuals. Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family.

The Eleventh Circuit held that the Florida legislature properly made a policy judgment that it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity. The Eleventh Circuit stated that, “[W]e have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment. Thus, any argument that the Florida legislature was misguided in its decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law. The 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.”

Under current Florida law, adoption is a privilege and not a right and, as such, the state may make classifications in the adoption arena that may be constitutionally suspect in other areas. The decision to adopt a child is not a private decision but a public act. The Eleventh Circuit relied on Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief in upholding the law and in finding that the Florida legislature had “a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialization of its adopted children…. [b]y seeking to place the children in homes that have both a mother and father.”

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, “Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father. Since the plaintiffs originally conceded that ‘barring homosexuals from adoption in the best interests of Florida’s children is on its face a legitimate purpose,’ the Supreme Court’s denial is consistent with the statements of the plaintiffs and will serve to support the law’s legitimate purpose of preserving the traditional model of the family.”