ACLU sues Florida over ban on gay and lesbian adoptions
May 26, 1999
MIAMI (CNN) -- The American Civil Liberties Union and children's advocates on Wednesday filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida in an attempt to overturn its ban on homosexuals becoming adoptive parents.
Foster parent Steve Lofton is one of the plaintiffs in the legal action.
The state of Florida has entrusted Lofton and his partner Roger Croteau over the past 11 years to raise three children from infancy.
The two men have even been cited as Foster Parents of the Year. But the state said that, because the men are gay, they may not adopt the children.
"I'm entitled to all the chores of parenthood, but have no other privileges legally," Lofton said.
The class-action lawsuit is the fourth attempt to overturn the state's ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
But this latest legal challenge is different. It's the first federal lawsuit, the first class-action suit and the first attempt to focus on the children, many of whom cannot be adopted by their gay foster parents who currently care for them.
"The goal of this lawsuit is to change that, to make sure that kids who need homes get them and those who are able to provide them homes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis," said Michael Adams of the ACLU.
Florida has the only anti-gay adoption law in the country, passed more than two decades ago. New Hampshire repealed a similar ban in March. But several other states are now considering enacting measures to forbid gay people from adopting children. Those states are Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
"These children are meant to be valued and nurtured and the best place we can do that, we say, is put them in a home where there is a mom and a dad," said Janet Parshall of the Family Resource Council. "We have millions of moms and dads out there who are aching to be able to adopt a child."
That's all Doug Houghton wants: to be able to adopt Oscar, a child he first cared for as a hospital nurse.
"He calls me 'Daddy' by choice. I feel like any other parent at this point," Houghton said.
"I would really like to make that a legally recognized relationship that everyone can see," he added. "I want that more than anything."
And he's joined the lawsuit against the state to try to make that possible.
Correspondent Pat Neal contributed to this report
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