A Miami judge ruled against Florida's ban on gay adoptions Tuesday, calling the 31-year-old law invalid and unconstitutional.
In a 53-page ruling, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said there was "no rational basis" for the state preventing same-sex partners from adopting.
"Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic," she wrote. "The most important factor in ensuring a well-adjusted child is the quality of parenting.''
Lederman ruled in favor of Martin Gill, a homosexual man who wanted to adopt of two brothers that he and his partner had cared for as foster parents since 2004.
"I've never seen myself as less than anybody else," Gill said after the decision. "We're very grateful. Today, I've cried the first tears of joy in my life."
Valerie Martin, attorney for the Department of Children & Families, said though they "respect the court's decision" a notice of appeal would be filed.
John Stemberger, who led the campaign to amend the state's constitution defining traditional marriage, called the ruling "classic judicial activism."
"Everywhere in the law where children are affected, the standard must always be what is in the best interest of the child," the Orlando attorney said. "What is stunning to me is that when it comes to dealing with gays, that standard goes out the window. Children do better with a mother and a father."
Florida is the only state with a specific ban on gay adoption, even though same-sex couples are allowed to be foster parents. Arkansas and Utah have similar laws but do not specifically single out gays. Mississippi allows single gays, but not gay couples, to adopt.
In August, a Monroe County, Fla., judge also ruled the state law unconstitutional. The latest case has the potential to reach Florida's Supreme Court.
Sources: Associated Press, Miami Herald