Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Newsmakers: Robert Lamarche ’94

Lamarche family

Lamarche family at SeaWord: Donald, Kasey, Sharla and Robert.

For 36 years, a Florida state law had prohibited gay men and lesbians from adopting children. Robert Lamarche ’94 challenged that law by seeking to adopt a 14-year-old boy (Kasey), whom he and his partner had been caring for for two years as foster parents. In October 2010, he became only the fourth gay man in Florida to adopt a child, thanks to a ruling by a Broward County juvenile court judge. And then, on Sept. 22, 2010, a Miami appeals court overturned the law, ruling it unconstitutional. A story in the Palm Beach Post stated that “It is a victory fueled by the initiative of gay men like Lamarche and [Donald] Giustiniani, partners for six years.” Several other media outlets also covered the story. “What an incredible thing to be a part of,” Lamarche said. He is currently a second-year law student at Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University and works part time as a law clerk. He also is a clinical consultant for the Alliance for Children, a private nonprofit adoption agency. A psychology major while at Wheaton, he notes that the college played a tremendous role in shaping his life and encouraging him to speak up. “I moved onto campus in August of 1990 a very insecure and directionless young man. Wheaton was a nurturing and progressive place. I came to understand who I was as a person and realized that being gay was not only OK, but it also was to be celebrated. I have always felt that as a gay man I was given the opportunity to live my life somewhat differently, blazing my own trail. I get to be a different kind of man in the world, the kind of man that I want to be. Wheaton also gave me the strength to stand up for myself and other people who are oppressed and devalued in the world. I am a part of this victory in Florida in large part because of Wheaton. This is Wheaton’s victory, too.”