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Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals has ruled a child custody decision must be reconsidered because the circuit court improperly took into account the homophobic attitudes of society when considering the case. The circuit court had concluded that it would not be in the best interest for children to live with their lesbian mother and her partner. With the assistance of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, Virginia Attorney Jean R. Simmons represented the mother, Julie K. Jacoby. Lambda currently is pursuing a separate case challenging the Florida statutory ban on adoptions by gay parents, according to LGNY. The Circuit Court for the 13th Judicial District, had ruled there existed a strong stigma attached to homosexuality, and as a result the child would receive negative words or thoughts that would not be in the child’s best interest. Writing for the appeals court, Judge Stevan T. Northcutt said, “Even if the court’s comments about the community’s beliefs and possible reactions were correct and supported, the law can not give effect to private biases.” The appeals court also criticized the trial court’s apparent reliance on the child’s father’s anti-gay biases, and found the trial court had incorrectly summarized a psychological expert’s testimony. Northcutt found the trial court’s decision permeated with conclusions that appeared to be affected by anti-gay bias. Thus, the appeals court overturned the ruling that granted the father custody, and remanded the case for a new custody order to be entered.

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