BY Julie Bolcer
August 27 2009 9:15 PM ET
An attorney for the state of Florida defended the strict ban on adoption by gays in appeals court on Wednesday by arguing that gay people in general exhibit higher rates of domestic violence, psychiatric disorders, and breakups, reports the Daily Business Review.
Arguments were made before a three-judge panel and standing-room-only crowd in the case of Frank Martin Gill (pictured, left), a North Miami man who seeks to adopt two young boys for whom he and his partner have served as foster parents for four years.
Florida law allows gays and lesbians to serve as foster parents, but a sweeping ban from 1977 prohibits them from adopting.
Deputy solicitor general Timothy Osterhaus cited statistics that he said justified the broad exclusion of gay people from adoption in Florida. Leslie Cooper, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union representing Gill, disputed the statistics. She countered that gay people experience no higher rates of domestic violence or breakups when partnered in relationships that involve children.
Last November, Miami-Dade County circuit judge Cindy S. Lederman ruled in the Gill case that the ban was unconstitutional, and she said she found “no rational basis” for prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting.
In making his arguments for the state Wednesday, Osterhaus did not contest the individual fitness of Gill to adopt the boys. However, he said the instability of gay homes in general made the ban rational. Attorneys for Gill argued for making adoption decisions on an individual, and not a group, basis.
The case is expected to reach the Florida supreme court.