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Judicial rulings that have expanded sexual and marital rights for homosexuals in recent months have not extended to same-sex couples wanting to adopt, at least in Florida.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January unanimously rejected a legal challenge by five men who sued the Florida Department of Children and Family Services for the right to adopt. Florida is the only state to prohibit homosexual individuals and couples from adopting.

Lofton v. Florida is the first case in which a federal appeals court ruled on homosexual adoption. The three-judge panel ruled there is no such right under the Florida law.

The decision is a victory against "judicial tyranny" exercised by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Goodridge v. Massachusetts, said Alan Chambers of Exodus International in Orlando. "The state of Florida has affirmed the fact that a child needs a two-parent opposite-sex home as the optimal environment."

The American Civil Liberties Union represented the five men. They all have been foster parents, which is permissible under Florida law.

The state argued that under Florida law an adopted child's interest is best served in a family with a married mother and father. Florida precludes all homosexuals, but not all unmarried heterosexuals, from adopting. The judges wrote, "We conclude that there are plausible rational reasons for the disparate treatment of homosexuals and heterosexual singles under Florida adoption law."

A survey last year by the Evan B. Donaldson Institute found that 60 percent of the nation's adoption agencies—compared to virtually none a decade earlier—accept applications from homosexuals, the chief resistance being from Christian agencies.

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April 2004

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