Three judges in the US state of Florida will decide if two half-brothers can be adopted by their gay foster father.

Under state law because their foster parent of four years is gay he is not eligible to adopt.

A Miami appeals court heard arguments on the case yesterday.

In November Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled in favour of Frank Martin Gill, a 54-year-old North Miami man.

Judge Lederman decided that Gill’s sexual orientation should not preclude him from being able to adopt his two foster children.

Action on this case at the State Supreme Court level could overturn Florida’s decades-old ban on gays and lesbians adopting children.

Florida is currently the only state that expressly bans all gays and lesbians from adopting.

The state does allow gays and lesbians to foster parent.

Gay and lesbian parents are raising 4% of all adopted children in the United States, approximately 65,500 children. Three percent are being raised by single lesbians and gay men and 1% by same-sex couples.

The Census in 2000 estimates indicate that 6% of children in non-kin care, with caretakers other than extended family members, are being raised by gay, lesbian, and bisexual foster parents, a total of 14,134 of the nearly 500,000 children living in foster care on any given day.

Gay and lesbian foster parents are more likely to raise children with disabilities—32% of all foster children with disabilities reside with gay and lesbian parents.

Florida is the only state that has a law specifically disallowing gay individuals from adopting.

In Nebraska, although no statutory law exists, a 1995 directive of the then director of the Department of Social Service prohibits adoption by gay individuals as well as individuals who are cohabitating in an unmarried relationship.

California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York have policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the adoption process.

An individual’s sexual orientation is not a basis for exclusion in Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington DC.