Court decision builds on Gill adoption victory in expanding parental rights for gays and lesbians; ACLU of Florida filed ‘friend of court’ brief

CONTACT:  ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 - 2737

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court today issued a decision that expands the right of parents in same-sex couples to be legally recognized as the parents of their biological children.

In its opinion in D.M.T. v. T.M.H., the court held that a Florida statute addressing the rights of egg and sperm donors, which was being used to deny the parental rights of a woman who had been raising a child with her female partner, violates the state and federal constitutions because it granted exceptions only to parents who were opposite-sex, and not same-sex, couples. The court determined that in part because the woman had assumed parental responsibilities, the state could not deny her parental rights simply because the law as written only prescribed rights for heterosexual couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida had jointly submitted an amicus curiae briefin the case with Lambda Legal arguing that this statutory scheme was unconstitutional as applied to families headed by same-sex couples like the one in this case.

“The ACLU of Florida was proud to partner with Lambda Legal in submitting an amicusbrief in support of the mother seeking to have her rights as a parent respected,” stated Daniel Tilley, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida specializing in LGBT rights. “This case cements and builds upon the hard-fought victory for our client Martin Gill that overturned the state’s ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians and expanded the legal rights and protections for LGBT parents. We look forward to continuing to work with attorneys and other advocacy organizations across the state to ensure that the rights of LGBT parents and their children are protected.”

In finding that there was no rational basis for the statute not to provide these protections to same-sex couples, the Court cited with approval the ACLU of Florida’s 2010 victory for Martin Gill. Specifically, the Court noted that in the Gill case,

“the parties in that case agreed ‘that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents,’ and that no party offered a justification for the prohibition on homosexual adoption based ‘on any theory that homosexual persons are unfit to be parents.’

The Court then went on to say:

“Likewise, in this case, no party and no amicus curiae has advanced the argument that either [the biological mother] or, for that matter, [the birth mother], is unfit to be a parent. Further, no party or amicus curiae has advanced the argument that the child’s best interests would be better served by having only one loving parent rather than two.”

A copy of the amicus filed by the ACLU of Florida is available here:

A copy of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision is available here:

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