Text: ACLU presents aclu.org Since 1977, Florida
law has barred gay people from adopting. However, Florida does allow gay people to serve as
foster parents. Martin: What are you guys for Halloween? What
are you? Children: Batman.
Leslie: Martin Gill and his partner have been foster parents to young brothers since December
of 2004. They live in Miami long with Martin’s partner’s biological son who is a teenager.
Martin and his partner were originally told that the placement of the children would be
temporary, just up to a couple of months because there were relatives who had expressed an
interest in adopting the children. At that time, the boys were four and four months old.
Martin: From the moment they walked in, boy, they were a neglect case and I could see that
was true. The four-year-old had the whole top of his head. He looked something like
me. He had male pattern baldness because this top of his head was covered with ringworm
to the point that his hair was no longer growing up there. It was all flaky and yellow. He
just looked terrified, traumatized. In fact, it was about two weeks, for two weeks he didn’t
speak at all. Today, he’s a very happy child. He smiles a lot. He has a lot of friends.
I had a report just yesterday from his teacher that he was talking too much to the other
kids, and I had to tell the teacher that makes me happy because here is a child that for
the longest time wouldn’t speak at all. Then when he began to speak for the first several
months he was very depressed and didn’t seem to bond with anybody. Now his teacher’s giving
me reports that he talks too much and he’s got too many friends. That really makes me
feel good. Leslie: After being in the care of Martin
and his partner for over a year or so, it became clear that the boys were not going
to be able to be re-unified with their biological relatives, and that they were going to be
free for adoption. Once that happened, the state would have an obligation to place the
children in a family that could adopt them, but because of the law banning adoption by
gay people in Florida, Martin and his partner would be ineligible, so they were concerned
that the children would be torn away from the family they had become so bonded to. At
that point, Martin and his partner came to the ACLU, asking for help.
Martin: We had a trial date coming up and we felt it necessary to explain what adoption
is in terms that maybe a four-year-old and an eight-year-old would understand. The older
of the two, all of a sudden he had just this look of pure contentment on his face and he
said, Poppy, we’re going to have the same name. We’re going to have the same last name,
and I said, yeah, we’re going to be a permanent family and we’re all going to have the same
name. He sat there and he wrote out his new name, two pages. He filled up at least two
or three pages for the next half hour, he wrote that name and he was smiling and he
was happy. At that point, he just got it. It’s a hard concept to know what being adopted
is at that age, but he got it. We were going to be a family and having that name to bond
us, the name Gill would bond us as a family. Text: In November 2008, a Florida judge ruled
the gay exclusion unconstitutional and granted Martin’s petition for adoption. To learn more
about the case, visit www.aclu.org/gill.