DCF chief advises Crist not to drop gay adoption lawsuitby Dara Kam | September 15th, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist should not drop a lawsuit that could result in a final decision about whether Florida’s 30-year-old ban on gay adoption is constitutional, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said.
Sheldon, a Democrat appointed by then-Republican Crist in 2008, is head of the agency that challenged a Miami judge’s ruling that Florida’s law barring gay couples from adopting children is unconstitutional. Crist said yesterday he is reviewing whether to drop the lawsuit after releasing a gay-friendly platform in his quest as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate.
“Everyone, no matter what side of this issue they’re on, believes there ought to be some finality to a decision, whether that’s a legislative decision or a judicial decision,” said Sheldon, a former state lawmaker who voted against the ban on gay adoption.
Four district court judges have ruled the statute is unconstitutional, and attorneys for both Martin Gill, the gay North Miami man who with his partner adopted two foster boys, and DCF agreed that the Gill family would provide the ideal “test case.”
But Sheldon said no one anticipated that it would take nearly a year for the 3rd District Court of Appeal to render a final decision in the case, which will likely wind up in the Florida Supreme Court.
“For the life of me I can’t understand why this is taking two years for the three-judge panel,” Sheldon said. “I don’t want to criticize the court but I do think this needs to be resolved one way or the other.”
DCF officials have insisted throughout the case that the two boys would remain with Gill and his partner, who were granted the adoptions in November 2008.
But a lawyer for Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose office was hired by DCF to handle the lawsuit, asked the appeals court last year to reverse the adoption and “make the children available” for adoption to someone else.