Florida judge rules homosexual may adopt child

March 19, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A Florida law prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children has been ruled unconstitutional by a Monroe County judge.

Key West resident Ed Seebol sued the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services last year after he was barred from adopting a son because of the state law.

Judge Ignatius Lester decided in Mr. Seebol's favor, ruling Friday that the statute violated Mr. Seebol's right to privacy and denied him equal protection under the law, according to a decision recorded in Monroe District Court yesterday.

"It's an important decision for the right of privacy in Florida, and most importantly it means my client, Ed Seebol, can adopt a child," attorney Lynn Waxman said.

Mr. Seebol, 53, is executive director of the non-profit AIDSHelp Inc. of Monroe County. He is a consultant who makes about $36,000 a year.

He had hoped to adopt a handicapped boy, perhaps one in an institution or one with AIDS.

But on May 11, 1990, the department of Health and Rehabilitative Services rejected his application to adopt a boy with special learning or physical disabilities, citing a 1977 Florida statute that prohibits homosexuals from being adoptive parents.

Only Florida and New Hampshire legally forbid homosexuals from adopting children. The judge's decision affects only Monroe County but can be cited in legal appeals in other Florida counties.

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