National Center for Youth Law


Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services
also known as Lofton v. Kearney and Lofton v. Butterworth

Plaintiffs sued the Attorney General and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enjoin them from enforcing a Florida statute prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting children. Adult plaintiffs include: Lofton, who had been a foster parent of a nine year old almost since birth; Houghton, who had been a legal guardian of a child for several years; Smith and Gilmore, two individuals who wish to adopt but are precluded; and the Bradley’s, a married couple who wish to provide for the testamentary guardianship of their minor child by Smith. Child plaintiffs are John Roe and John Doe, the children of Lofton and Houghton. Plaintiffs sued under the substantive due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.



99-10058 (S.D. Fla., Key West Division, May 26, 1999)


93 F. Supp. 2d. 1343 (S.D. Fla. 2000); 157 F. Supp. 2d 1372 (S.D. Fla. 2001), aff’d., 358 F.3d 804 (11th Cir. 2004), reh’g en banc denied, 377 F.3d 1275 (11th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 869 (2005)



Karen Coolman Amlong
Amlong and Amlong
500 N. E. 4th Street, 2nd Floor
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-1154
(954) 462-1983
Fax: (954) 523-3192

Elizabeth Schwartz
Steven Kozlowski
Crockett & Chasen
420 Lincoln Road, Suite 338
Miami, FL 33139
(305) 674-9222
Fax: (305) 674-9002

Randall Marshall
ACLU of Florida
Leslie Cooper
Matthew Coles
ACLU Foundation
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004-2400
(212) 344-3005


Christina A. Zawisza
Child Advocacy Clinic
University of Memphis Law School
109 N. Main, Second Fl
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-8822
Fax: (901) 543-5087

ACLU of Florida
4500 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 340
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 576-2336


Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint. In 2000, the court granted dismissal in part based on lack of standing. On August 30, 2001, the court granted defendants’ summary judgment motion, upholding as constitutional Florida Statute § 63.042(3), which prevents “practicing homosexuals” from adopting children.

Plaintiffs appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On January 28, 2004, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Florida law as constitutional. Plaintiffs applied for a rehearing en banc, which was denied in July 2004. In upholding the constitutionality of the law, the court found that (1) there was no fundamental right to adopt or be adopted; (2) there was no fundamental right to homosexual intimacy (under Lawrence v. Texas); and (3) homosexuals were not a suspect class for purposes of Equal Protection analysis.
On January 10, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Lofton v. Kearney