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McCollum backs off gay adoption ban, pulls the appeal

Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that he has decided not to appeal the ruling that has thrown out the Florida's ban on the adoption of foster children by gay couples, putting an end to the law that has been on the books for 33 years.

The decision comes after McCollum's office spent years the constitutional challenge to the law, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Martin Gill, a Miami man who wanted to adopt two foster children he and his partner have been raising for almost six years. McCollum even got personally involved in the selection of an expert witness to defend the state law.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Children and Families had already announced that they would not appeal the decision. McCollum made clear in his statement that he hopes for a future case to uphold the constitutionality of the law.

"The constitutionality of the Florida law banning adoption by homosexuals is a divisive matter of great public interest,'' McCollum's office said in a statement. "As such, the final determination should rest with the Florida Supreme Court, not a lower appellate court.  But after reviewing the merits of independently seeking Supreme Court review, following the decision of our client the Department of Children and Families not to appeal the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, it is clear that this is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination. 

"No doubt someday a more suitable case will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to uphold the constitutionality of this law."

ACLU called McCollum's decision a welcome relief.

"This law, by baselessly branding gay people unfit parents, was one of the most notorious anti-gay laws in the country, and we are delighted that it has been ended once and for all,” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project, who argued the case before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. “This victory means that the thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give them the love and support of a family.”