Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services case brief

Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services case brief summary
358 F.3d 804 (2004)

In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida appellants, homosexual individuals and the children they wished to adopt, sued defendant state officials alleging Fla. Stat. § 63.042(3) violated their fundamental rights and equal protection. Appellants also sought class certification for two classes. The court denied class certification and granted summary judgment for the state on all counts. Appellants sought review.

The statute specifically prohibited adoption by a homosexual person. The appellant individuals had been caring for the appellant children as foster parents and guardians.


  • Inter alia, the court held that the statute was constitutional as enacted and as subsequently enforced. Appellants' right-to-family-integrity argument failed to state a claim. 
  • There was no precedent for appellants' novel proposition that long-term foster care arrangements and guardianships were entitled to constitutional protection akin to that accorded to natural and adoptive families. 
  • The court also declined appellants' invitation to recognize a new fundamental right to family integrity for groups of individuals who had formed deeply loving and interdependent relationships. 
  • Further, the Lawrence decision could not be extrapolated to create a right to adopt for homosexual persons. 
  • As to the Equal Protection challenge, there were plausible rational reasons for the disparate treatment of homosexuals and heterosexual singles under Florida adoption law. 
  • To the extent that the classification might have been imperfect, that imperfection did not rise to the level of a constitutional infraction.
The appellate court affirmed the lower court's summary judgment to the state over an equal protection and due process challenge by homosexual persons desiring to adopt.

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