A state appeals court on Wednesday struck down Florida's controversial ban on adoptions by gay men and women as unconstitutional, and Gov. Charlie Crist and the state's child-welfare chief announced hours later they will immediately cease to enforce the ban.
In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal in West Miami-Dade said there is no ``rational basis'' for excluding gay men and lesbians from the pool of potential adoptive parents, upholding a November 2008 opinion by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman.
Calling Wednesday ``a very good day for Florida'' and ``a great day for children,'' Crist told reporters his administration will immediately cease enforcing the statute, which has held sway over Florida child welfare policy since 1977, when the Legislature voted overwhelmingly to exclude gays and lesbians from adopting.
The appeal court acknowledged its ruling is likely to be appealed. ``Our ruling,'' the panel wrote, ``is unlikely to be the last word.''
On Wednesday, Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose office represented the state in the case, declined to say what action he will take.