MIAMI -

A couple continued their fight in court Wednesday to keep their adopted son and help lift Florida's statewide ban on gay adoption.

Vanessa Alenier and Melanie Leon took their place in history Wednesday as the state of Florida appealed their adoption of their son.

"We can't just sit back and let people make these laws that are prejudiced against us," Alenier said.

"We're just two moms taking care of our son, and to be up against this huge law and to convince them that it's unconstitutional is very difficult and really scary," Leon said.

At the Third District Court of Appeals, the state argued that the Miami-Dade County judge who allowed the couple to adopt Aleneir's young cousin in January should not have for the simple reason that state law bans gay adoptions.

"The state has the right to articulate criteria and eligibility standards for adoption," said Ronald Lathan, an attorney for the Department of Children and Families.

"I think it's hate and animus against people who are not like us, be they blacks or Jews or Cubans or homosexuals," said Alan Mishael, an attorney for Alenier and Leon.

The couple's attorney argued that the law cannot be valid because it singles out and discriminates against one group of prospective parents.

A three-judge panel is considering the case.

"Isn't there an argument to be made that the measure is punitive in nature?" said Judge Gerald Cope Jr.

"Is there any rational basis for singling out homosexuals against adoption?" said Judge Leslie Rothenberg.

State Sen. Nan Rich has led attempts in the state Legislature to repeal the law.

"I think there is a chipping away, but I think it will have to come from the courts," Rich said.

The case could set precedent. If the court decides to let the adoption stand, it automatically makes Florida's decades-old ban on gay adoption unenforceable.

The judges have no deadline, so it is unclear when they will make a decision.