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Gay men to keep fighting adoption ban

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union said she would ask a federal court to review its decision upholding a Florida law barring gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence King ruled Thursday there is no fundamental right to adopt or be adopted, so "there can be no fundamental right to apply for adoption."

The state had asserted that it was in "the best interest" of a child to be raised by a married family, and the judge said it was "unnecessary" for the court to determine whether that was correct.

King wrote the plaintiffs conceded that concern for children's welfare was "on its face a legitimate purpose," even though they claim that purpose was only a pretext for discriminating against homosexuals.

CNN's Kathy Slobogin reports on gays wanting the opportunity to adopt in Florida (August 31)

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CNN's Vince Cellini talks to Ken Connor of the Family Research Council and Matt Coles of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project on the Florida adoption ruling (August 31)

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"As a matter of law, it is unnecessary and improper for this Court to determine whether the reason for the challenged distinction actually motivated the legislature," King wrote.

The decision is a setback for the men who sued to challenge the law.

Leslie Cooper, the attorney who represented the men, said she was surprised by the ruling. She said Florida's law was based on bias and should be overturned.

The case began after Steven Lofton, a gay man, sought to adopt a foster child he had taken care of for 10 years. Another gay man, Douglas Houghton, joined the suit after he tried to adopt a child he had been caring for since he was 3-years-old.

The child's father asked Houghton to take the child, named Oscar, because he was unemployed and struggling with alcohol abuse. Oscar's mother is dead.

Now Oscar is nine and knows Houghton as "Dad."

"Don't let anybody ever try to take this child away from me, because now he's, my whole world kind of centers around him," Houghton said.

Houghton is Oscar's legal guardian, but hoped to adopt him.

Wayne Smith and Dan Skahen joined the lawsuit after they were not allowed to adopt.

They are licensed foster parents and have taken care of severely abused and neglected children.

"In the past year and a half we've had eight children through our house, ranging in ages from seven-months to 15-years-old." Skahen said.

Smith and Skahen said they don't understand why its okay for them to be foster parents but not adopt.

"It's just not right. There are on one side, literally thousands of kids that aren't being taken care of, that are in shelters, that are waiting desperately for adoptive parents, and on the other side plenty of very capable and very eager very loving parents who would adopt them," Smith said. "The only thing that keeps them from one another is this law."

Opponents of gay adoption argued that the lawsuit was without merit.

"I think it has far less to do with the best interest of the child than it does with advancing the gay agenda," said Ken Connor, an attorney and President of the Family Research Council.

He said children are better off in a home with a mother and a father and that homosexuals have higher rates of depression, drug abuse and sexual partners.

However, a review by the American Psychological Association concluded: "Not a single study has found children or gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect..."

Mississippi and Utah are the only other states with laws against gay adoptions, but about a dozen have considered bans in recent years. 20 states and the District of Columbia expressly allow it.


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