Commentary: Appeals court right to allow gay parents to adopt

It took 33 years, much sacrifice and many tears but, finally, Florida's ban on gay men and lesbians adopting children has been exposed for what it is: discrimination.

The Wednesday ruling by a three-judge panel of Florida's Third District Court of Appeal made clear that the law has "no rational basis" to deny gays and lesbians the right to adopt. The state law was the product of the cultural clashes of another day, back when former beauty queen and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant campaigned for conservative "family values."

Those values today continue to clash from Key West to Washington to Alaska. American families are no longer exclusively defined as those with a mother and father. There are extended families, blended families with children from divorced parents, families run by grandparents and aunts and uncles, and, yes, there are happy, thriving children with two fathers or two mothers and many other combinations of caregivers.

What appropriately concerned the court, which bases its ruling on constitutional rights and the welfare of the children, was the fitness of the parents, gay or straight. In that sense, this case was an easy call.

Two years ago, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman granted Frank Martin Gill's request to adopt two brothers that he and his partner have cared for as foster parents since 2004 when the boys were 4 years old and 4 months old. In that ruling, Judge Lederman noted that the state's two "expert" witnesses had no scientific proof. The appeals court agreed.

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