A federal appeals court upheld Florida’s ban on same-sex adoptions yesterday while curbing the Supreme Court’s landmark Texas sodomy ruling.
In coming to its decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Lawrence vs. Texas decision last year did not create a new fundamental right to private sexual intimacy.
The court said the Texas case, which found criminal homosexual sodomy statutes unconstitutional, did not control the Florida adoption case because the ban on adoption was not a criminal prohibition but was a statutory privilege.
The 11th Circuit in Atlanta, sitting as a full court of 12 judges, refused to reverse its earlier opinion upholding the adoption ban.
The court’s previous ruling, which remains in effect, holds that the Florida Legislature properly judged it is not in the best interests of displaced children to be adopted by individuals who engage in homosexual activity.
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 Legislature is the proper forum for this debate, and we do not sit as a super-legislature to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus.”
The opinion noted that under Florida law, adoption is a privilege and not a right and that the state can make classifications in the adoption arena that may be constitutionally suspect in other areas.
The opinion relied upon a friend-of-court brief filed by Florida-based Liberty Counsel, arguing the 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, 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.”