Federal Bill Would Penalize States for their Anti-Gay Adoption Laws
U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) has introduced a new bill to the House called the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. It is designed to restrict a state or adoption agency’s federal funding if they discriminate on the basis of the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective parents.
What Would the Every Child Deserves a Family Act Do?
Introduced on Oct. 15, the act (H.R. 3827) aims to stop discrimination in adoption and foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective adoptive/foster parent in question.
Why is this an issue? Currently, several states have restrictions on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples adopting. Such states include Florida and Mississippi. In Rep. Stark’s introduction to the bill, he contends that this bias is damaging to the children that are waiting to be adopted or fostered:
“On any given day, there are approximately 500,000 children in the child welfare system. Over 125,000 of these abused and neglected children are waiting to be adopted. There is an acute shortage, however, of adoptive and foster parents. The result is that many children, particularly minority and special needs children, languish in foster care without permanent homes. The severe developmental, emotional, and educational costs to children raised in foster care are well documented. The 25,000 youth who never find a permanent family and “age out” of the system each year are more likely than nearly any other group to become homeless, incarcerated, or suffer with mental illness or substance abuse.
“Despite the shortage of adoptive and foster parents and the terrible consequences of long stays in the child welfare system, some states have enacted discriminatory bans prohibiting children from being placed with qualified parents due to the parent’s marital status or sexual orientation. Currently, over 65,000 adopted children and 14,000 foster children are living with a gay or lesbian parent. Studies suggest that upward of 2 million gay and lesbian individuals are interested in adopting or fostering a child. Yet, statewide discriminatory bans and the practices of individual adoption agencies have resulted in fewer children being placed in safe and permanent homes.
“Congress invests over $8 billion in the child welfare system each year and we should not accept policies that use Federal funds to enact barriers to adoption and close the door to thousands of potential homes. Multiple studies have found that adopted and foster children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as their peers being raised by heterosexual parents.
“When considering a potential placement for a child, the only criteria should be what is in the child’s best interest and whether the prospective parents can provide a safe and nurturing home. Bigotry should play no part in this decision.”
There are currently no co-sponsors, nor a Senate companion to the bill. H.R. 3827 has now been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means for review.
Having read the bill, I can tell you that it centers around the findings of a 2007 Evan B. Donaldson institute report. The report examined the numbers of prospective LGBT adoptive/foster parents versus the numbers that were blocked from adopting or fostering by state laws or the rules of specific adoption agencies, and how, each year, this could be negatively impacting children in the adoption/foster care system.
Click here to go to the Evan B. Donaldson institute homepage to find out more about them, or you can click here to look at the 2007 report and subsequent reports that the Evan B. Donaldson institute have published.
As far as I can see, there are no religious exemptions in this bill. This means that if a religious institution that facilitates adoptions receives federal funding and wishes to keep that funding, it will be compelled to treat every couple the same, irrespective of their sexuality, gender identity or marital status.
Conservatives have already attacked the bill, saying that it amounts to “coercion” from the federal government whom, they say, are trying to impose a homosexual agenda, and that this law would violate an individual state’s autonomy as prescribed by the 10th Amendment.
I’m not going to say too much on this. Rather, I’d like to throw the discussion over to you and ask if you think that the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is a much needed step in allowing gay, lesbian and transgender people the full rights of adoption that are granted to their straight counterparts, or if you feel that the bill is overreaching and goes too far in prescribing what a state can or can not do. Have your say now.
Where in America is gay adoption legal?
What does the Tenth Amendment say?
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