A federal appeals court yesterday upheld Florida’s ban on same-sex adoptions, ruling the landmark Texas sodomy case does not establish a right for homosexuals to parent displaced children.

The Florida legislature properly judged it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who engage in voluntary homosexual activity, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said.

The court said it “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 opinon also made a strong statement against judicial activism.

“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,” it said.

The court noted that under Florida law, adoption is a privilege and not a right and the state can make classifications with respect to adoption that might be constitutionally suspect in other areas.

“In this age of judicial activism, it is refreshing to see a court assume its proper role and allow the people to set family policy,” said Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel.

“Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father,” he added.

Liberty Counsel, a civil liberties legal defense and education organization in Orlando, Fla., joined with the Marriage Law Project to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Florida lawmakers.

“Hopefully this decision will form a basis for other states to follow Florida’s example of preserving family relationships that include a mom and a dad,” Staver said.

The federal court’s decision curbed the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas last year that found criminal homosexual sodomy statutes unconstitutional.

The Eleventh Circuit held that the Lawrence decision did not create a new fundamental right to private sexual intimacy and did not control the adoption case because the ban on adoption was not a criminal prohibition, but was a statutory privilege.

The opinion relied upon Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief in holding that the Florida Legislature had “a legitimate interest in encouraging a stable and nurturing environment for the education and socialization of its adopted children … by seeking to place the children in homes that have both a mother and father.”

The opinion also noted that even though some have argued alternative child-rearing arrangements are satisfactory, the court stated no alternative arrangement “has proven as enduring as the marital family structure, nor has the accumulated wisdom of several millennia of human experience discovered a superior model.”


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