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

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
358 F.3d 804 (2004)


Steven Lofton (plaintiff), a pediatric nurse with substantial experience caring for HIV patients, raised three Florida foster children who had tested positive for HIV at birth. Lofton sought to adopt one of the children, John Doe (plaintiff). By statute, the state of Florida prohibited adoptions by persons who participated in “current, voluntary homosexual activity.” On Lofton’s adoption application, he did not answer the question about his sexual orientation nor did he identify his live-in partner, Roger Croteau. Lofton’s adoption application was denied on the basis of the homosexuality prohibition. The Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) (defendant) offered to allow Lofton to be named Doe’s legal guardian. Lofton declined. Guardianship status would jeopardize Doe’s Medicaid eligibility and would extinguish Lofton’s foster payments, consequences that Lofton was unwilling to accept unless guardianship was an interim step toward permanent adoption. He and Doe brought suit, along with four other plaintiffs, against DCF. Plaintiffs’ suit was unsuccessful in the trial court. They appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Birch, J.)

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