November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Well, Floridians, be aware that gay couples are now permitted to become adoptive parents.

Until now, Florida was the only state in the country to have a blanket ban on same-sex adoptions.

Here’s what the draconian 33 year old Florida statute says:  “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.”

 Florida Court of Appeals on Gay Adoption

But, last year, a Florida Court of Appeals decided the state’s blanket ban on gay adoption was unconstitutional because same sex parents were the only ones who could not have their petition for adoption reviewed on a case by case basis.The court ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Martin Gill, a Miami man who wanted to adopt two foster children he and his partner had been raising for almost six years.

The court said that the state, represented by the Florida Department for Children and Families, did not have a rational basis for the ban because all other groups of people, including those with criminal records, could petition for adoption and be considered on a case by case basis. Only gay couples faced a blanket ban.

Supreme Court Appeal

Last month, Attorney General Bill McCollum said he would not appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court. As a result of the ruling, the check box for sexuality as an identifying characteristic on adoption papers throughout the entire state will be finally be removed.

This decision may be appealed by someone in the future, but for now the state of Florida will be able to find homes for the thousands of parentless children with eager same sex parents-to-be. Oddly enough, the ruling will also help Florida meet a legal requirement of the state to provide a safe home for every child.

Same-sex Couple Wanting to Adopt?

If you are a same-sex couple living in Florida and have been considering adoption, now is the time to act. The Law Office of Debra G. Simms has over 22 years of experience advocating for the rights of gays and domestic partners. Call our Toll Free number today: 1-877-447-4667.

Debra G. Simms
To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

Being in a same sex relationship in Florida isn’t easy. Besides everyday relationship struggles, those in same sex relationships have to work around the rights that heterosexual couples have that they do not. Same sex partners will often experience difficulties in estate planning, child custody, medical consent, etc. when they are considering how to best provide for their partner and family.

Equal rights for same sex partners

Recent gains have been made in the fight for equal rights for same sex partners in other states, which gives hope to those in Florida. While the most recent news is focused on New York legalizing gay marriage, there are other small gains to consider as well. For example, the state of Illinois recently passed the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which further defined the term “partners in a civil union” to include same sex couples. This act, which came into effect in June 2011, offers partners joined in a civil union the same protections, benefits, and responsibilities under law as granted to spouses in a marriage and also includes same sex partners in the terms “spouse”, “family”, “next of kin”, etc.

Some companies are already stepping up and adapting to the new laws. For example, internet insurance company Esurance, which already offered savings to same sex couples in California, Oregon, and Washington, now also offers savings to those in Illinois.

Florida’s laws same sex partners

While Florida’s laws may be behind other states when it comes to same sex relationships, there have been some advancements.  Many cities in Florida now have laws protecting from discrimination based on gender identity or expression as well as discrimination in public employment, and Florida legislation has added sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as protected categories to the Florida Civil Rights Act as of 2009.  Recently, Florida courts affirmed that gay couples have the right to adopt.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms offers consultations to same-sex couples for a variety of issues, including property agreements, custody, wills, powers of attorney and medical directives.
Call for a consultation to know your rights.
Debra G. Simms

To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

Defense of Marriage Act, (“DOMA”)

SCOTUS DOMA Results DCThe Defense of Marriage Act, (“DOMA”) enacted in 1996, mandates that the federal government disregard same sex marriages legally conducted in ANY state.  As a result, committed couples who marry in states that recognize gay marriage are denied an array of federal benefits and protections granted to other married couples.
For example, married same-sex couples cannot file joint income tax returns, transfer an estate to a spouse without tax consequences or receive spousal Social Security benefits.  And, we have all heard the horror stories of long-term couples being denied the right to participate in the medical decisions of their partner or in some drastic cases, being denied visitation in hospitals or nursing homes!
In applauding the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recent vote to repeal DOMA, the New York Bar Association has announced that DOMA’s repeal continues to be a top priority of the Bar. The Bar specifically commends Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy and U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kristen E. Gillibrand, co-sponsors of the repeal bill, for their strong advocacy on behalf of gay couples.

Gay Rights in Florida

Florida lags a bit behind New York in recognizing gay rights, and  only recently did a Florida appeals court strike as unconstitutional the ban on adoptions by homosexuals.

Here, at the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms, we remain committed to gay rights.

Please feel free to contact us for a consultation.
See the exact wording of the Law:
Debra G. Simms
To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
817 E. 7th Ave
New Smyrna Beach FL, 32169
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667