Groups File Briefs In ACLU Lawsuit

June 23, 2009

Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, ACLU of Florida (786) 363-2737 or
Paul Cates, Director of Public Education, ACLU LGBT Project, (212) 549-2568 or

MIAMI – The most respected Florida and national children’s health, welfare and legal advocacy groups filed seven friend-of-the-court briefs before a Florida appeals court Monday urging the court to strike down a Florida law barring lesbians and gay men from adopting. The briefs were filed in support of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that resulted in a Florida juvenile court judge striking down the law and granting the adoptions of two brothers to a gay man who has been raising the boys with his partner for more than four years.

“The Florida law banning lesbians and gay men from adopting cripples efforts to find families for the approximately 3,500 foster children the State reported were in need of homes and leaves some children without the security of adoption and having a ‘forever family,’” said Leslie Cooper, a senior staff lawyer with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “It’s not surprising that so many prominent children’s advocates are stepping up to let the court know just how harmful this law is to children.”

On November 25, 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman granted the adoptions of two brothers, ages four and eight, to Martin Gill of North Miami, after a four-day trial that highlighted scientific evidence that gay and straight people make equally good parents. Gill and his partner have been foster parents to the two boys for more than four years, and the boys are thriving under their care.

The decision overturned Florida’s 31-year-old law banning gays and lesbians from adopting that was enacted in response to an anti-gay campaign led by Anita Bryant. The state immediately appealed the decision, and the case is now pending before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. The ACLU’s brief on behalf of Gill and the brief of the children’s counsel were filed on June 15, 2009.

Because the court file is sealed, copies of briefs in the case cannot be provided without an order of the court. The friend-of-the-court briefs were filed by children’s advocates from across the nation, including:

Children’s Health and Welfare Groups
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
American Psychological Association
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Center for Adoption Policy
Foster Care Alumni of America
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Florida Chapter of the NASW
Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Legal Advocates for Children
National Center for Adoption Law and Policy
Juvenile Law Center
Lawyers for Children America
National Center for Youth Law
Southern Poverty Law Center
Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
Foster Children’s Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law Center on Children and Families
Children & Youth Law Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law
Florida State University College of Law Public Interest Law Center
Florida International University Juvenile Justice Clinic
The Barry University School of Law Children and Families Clinic
The Nova Southeastern University Law Center Children and Families Clinic
Child Advocacy Clinic at Hofstra School of Law
Ohio State University School of Law
Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center
Loyola Chicago School of Law
Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
Justice for Children Project
Support Center for Child Advocates
Civitas Child Law Clinic
Children and Family Justice Center of the Bluhm Legal Clinic of Northwestern University School of Law

A date has not yet been set for oral argument before the Third District Court of Appeal. For more information on the case, including a video of Martin Gill explaining how this law has harmed his family, visit

Martin Gill is represented by Co-Director James Esseks and senior staff attorney Leslie Cooper of the ACLU LGBT Project and LGBT Project Director Robert Rosenwald and staff attorney Shelbi Day of the ACLU of Florida. The children are represented by Hilarie Bass, Elliot Scherker, Elaine Walter and Brigid Cech Samole of Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander, an attorney and former District Administrator for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). 


2009 Press Releases