Please allow me to introduce you to John, age 8, and his brother James, age 4. These boys are thriving in the home of two loving, nurturing adults. But it wasn't always so.
When they arrived in December 2004 at the North Miami home of their new foster parents, then-4-year-old John was wearing a dirty adult-sized T-shirt and sneakers that were four sizes too small and worn like flip-flops. Both he and his brother had scalp ringworm and 4-month-old James had an ear infection. John did not speak, couldn't hold a pencil and had never seen a book before.
John, it seems, had only one concern and that was changing, feeding and looking out for his baby brother. At the beginning, John hoarded food and hid it in his room. His foster parents would bring him to the stove at mealtimes to see the great quantities of food available, assuring him there was plenty.
The brothers went from a world of chronic neglect and deprivation to one that is nurturing, stimulating and safe. I know all this because it is laid out in throat-lumping plainness by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman, who ruled on Tuesday that the boys could be adopted by their foster father, 47-year-old Frank Martin Gill, who is gay.
Her 53-page ruling declaring that Florida's 31-year ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional is a masterpiece of truth and compassion, grounded in a thorough analysis of 30 years of social science on gay parenting as well as spot-on legal reasoning.
Judge Lederman, who is an old acquaintance, has offered us the best of what judges can bring to society: a repudiation of laws that are a malignant manifestation of the bigotry of their time.
Florida's ban on gay adoption passed in 1977. Now, it has been judicially recognized that there is no rational basis for this kind of sweeping intolerance encoded in law. As Lederman said, "Sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent."
Gill and his life partner were touted as "model parents" by the children's guardian ad litem, who visited the boys monthly for years and called the Gill home "one of the most caring and nurturing placements" he has ever encountered. Lederman found that Gill "is an exceptional parent to John and James who have healed in his care."
Now allow me to introduce you to Dr. George Rekers, a clinical psychologist who is also an ordained Baptist minister. Rekers was one of the state's star witnesses in its efforts to keep Gill from making John and James his sons.
Rekers testified that homosexual adults are unfit as adoptive parents because they are more likely to suffer from depression and tend to have a larger number of partners over their lives.
Hmm. If true, could it be because people like Rekers marginalize gay citizens and work to block the ability of gays to obtain stability through marriage?
Rekers often invokes what he calls God's moral laws to decree that homosexual behavior shouldn't be countenanced by his profession. According to Rekers, individual homosexuals are "manipulated by leaders of the homosexual revolt" to the detriment of those suffering this "sexual perversion." Rekers' testimony was easily discredited. Instead the court relied on empirical studies demonstrating that there are "no differences" in the adjustment of children with gay parents.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." It is bending a bit now, for John and James, for Gill and his partner, and for the nearly 1,000 children in Florida who are waiting for good, loving, permanent homes.
That is, if this decision is allowed to stand.