A STEP FORWARD ON GAY ADOPTIONS…. A Florida judge ruled yesterday that a state law banning adoption by gay men and lesbians is unconstitutional. “The best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption,” said Judge Cindy Lederman, adding that the law violated equal protection rights for children and their prospective parents.

I realize there are conservatives, including the Republicans’ most recent presidential nominee, who believe children without parents are better off in orphanages than being adopted by gay people. What’s less obvious to me is how they rationalize this position, beyond just blind ignorance and bigotry. “Gays are icky” usually doesn’t impress judges in the midst of legal proceedings.

It’s why I found this fascinating.

The state presented experts who argued that there was a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among same-sex couples, that their relationships were less stable than those of heterosexuals, and that their children suffered a societal stigma.

Obviously, attorneys representing the state of Florida have to go to court with something to argue, but it’s telling that these were the best arguments the lawyers could come up with. It’s effectively state-sanctioned stereotyping — a lot of gays are unstable addicts, the argument goes, so no gays should be allowed to adopt.

It’s as if Archie Bunker got a law degree. We are in the 21st century, right?

What’s especially odd is that the argument is that adopting is actually pretty difficult. Officials from social service agencies go to prospective parents’ homes and check to see if, say, they abuse drugs or alcohol. If they do — here’s the kicker — they don’t get to adopt.

In this particular case, Frank Martin Gill and his partner have raised two foster children over the last four years. His Miami home is the only home the two boys have known. The kids, by all available evidence, are “thriving” after having been allegedly abused by their birth parents. Florida officials insisted that the children would have to be taken away. The court said no.

The state attorney general’s office is planning to appeal, and the case is likely to end up before the Florida Supreme Court.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.