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Florida Department of Children and Families will not appeal gay-adoption ruling

BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER, cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com

Florida child welfare administrators will not appeal last month's ruling that tossed out Florida's controversial gay-adoption law.

George Sheldon, secretary of the Department of Children & Families, announced Tuesday his agency will not appeal a ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal that declared the 33-year-old law unconstitutional. The ruling involved two former foster children adopted by Frank Martin Gill, an openly gay North Miami man who took custody of the boys under DCF's authorization.

``It's clear that the District Court of Appeal decision is of statewide application, and it will be binding on all trial courts across the state,'' Sheldon said.

As of last week, the state had exhausted the time to challenge the Gill adoption, and so, regardless of the law's status, the two children will remain Gill's adoptive children, Sheldon said.

Sheldon said he had discussed the case with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum as early as Tuesday morning, and informed the state's top law enforcer of his decision. He said he does not know whether McCollum will choose to exercise his authority to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court in defense of the state statute.

Gill, Sheldon said, ``had been put through too much uncertainty'' already in the case, and should not be subjected to further appeals and delays. The matter ``weighed heavily on me, and on the governor, as well,'' Sheldon added.

Gill ``has invested alot in these children, and clearly loves the children,'' Sheldon said.

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