Moments ago, Department of Children & Families' (DCF) Director, George Sheldon, announced that the agency will not appeal last month's court ruling which struck down Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption as "unconstitutional."
It is now legal for gay and lesbian parents to adopt children everywhere in the state of Florida.
In an official statement from DCF, spokesman Joe Follick made clear that the 33 year ban comes to and end today. "The DCA opinion is binding on all trial courts and therefore provides statewide uniformity. The ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional statewide," Follick said.
Equality Florida spoke directly with DCF Director, George Sheldon, this evening, and while the official clock for the state to appeal does not officially run out until October 22nd, Sheldon made clear the ban is over. "The Gill family adoption is now final. They can take pride that they are now a family in the eyes of the state and they can take pride that their struggle has closed the chapter on this law for good," Sheldon said.
As we pause and celebrate this tremendous victory, we want to say a special thank you to Martin and his family, the ACLU and ACLU of Florida, Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander for their brilliant work in the courtroom.
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.
With your continued support, we will be ready for them. Equality Florida has been working with a coalition of organizations and individuals on a project called Adopt Equality. For months, our volunteers have been calling Florida voters and asking them to support adoption by gay and lesbian parents.
But even as we prepare for what's next, today is a day to celebrate the end of an ugly chapter in Florida's history. Florida's adoption ban is no more, as evidenced by a DCF directive sent to department heads statewide that reads:
Based on the ruling that the current law is unconstitutional, you are no longer to ask prospective adoptive parents whether they are heterosexual, gay or lesbian, nor are you to use this as a factor in determining the suitability of applicants to adopt. Focus your attention on the quality of parenting that prospective adoptive parents would provide, and their commitment to and love for our children.
That's exactly what Equality Florida has always been working toward!
PS - Click here for a brief history of Equality Florida's work on ending the adoption ban.