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Federal Bill Would Penalize States for their Anti-Gay Adoption Laws

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.

You can track the bill’s progress by going here.

You can also read the full official text of the bill by clicking here.

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.

Resources:
Where in America is gay adoption legal?
What does the Tenth Amendment say?

Related Care2 Actions:
Click here to urge your senators to take action on ENDA today.
Click here to show your support for a DADT repeal.
Click here to sign Care2′s Defense of Marriage Act repeal petition.

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Photo used under the Creative Comomns Attribution License, with thanks to nerdcoregirl.

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41 comments

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11:38AM PDT on May 10, 2011

Serena M, you are obviously very misguided. Pedophiles are typically heterosexual men. Please do research before making ludicrous accusations. It's sheeple like you that make this world so hateful. Think for yourself instead of taking everything at face value.

5:07AM PST on Nov 5, 2009

Serena M. You are so far off base that it makes me sick.

Gay people are not pedophiles.

This is a good bill, and I would like to see a petition started to support it.

As for the possibility of a religious exception: Why? If a religious group decides that they disapprove of interracial couples, are we going to say that they have a respectable concern? If were rational, of course not.
If an organization is receiving federal funding, they should abide by federal laws. No exceptions because their "religion" contains irrational prejudice.

4:29AM PST on Nov 1, 2009

This is typical of the red herrings tossed our way to debate and support, overriding the critical facalties whilst falling for the emotional trap laid in order that such reasonable propositions get passed into law, enabling their true purpose to be executed. What am I talking about? Depopulation and the heterophobic acceptance of children coerced into homosexuality. This is a pedophile's charter and those who stupidly support it can hold themselves accountable for the consequences, for ignorance is no excuse. Such deceptive coatings hide a bitter poison and those purporting to 'save children' through 'gay' adoption better get straight about the fact that children are being stolen from their parents by the state and imprisoned within 'rings' of pedophiles. Get that?

3:29PM PDT on Oct 29, 2009

I don't live in the US but in a Latin American country that is so hung up on machismo that there is no way a single man nor LGBT person could adopt... the state says it is better for them to rot in the street than have their own room, their own interests, an education, plate of food and a loving advisor at their side. Sure, they have BIG problems but time and proximity to a rational and caring person is the only way they will escape the danger and temptations of the street. I don't ask anybodys permission except for the kid that needs a home and if he is agreeable, then so am I. All I ask of them is to try to feel that they now have a family, even if it is only one person, and to form the mutual respect between a "parent" and child... I don't pretend "friendship" as it is often devoid of guidance. Three out of four have "turned out fine" and lurched up on their own hind legs and continued their education with minimal help from me but always knowing that they have a safe haven to return to if the outside world got too rough for them. It makes a real difference when they have a mentor to consult so that they can find the courage to move on. I even have a couple of grand "grand-kids"! and all without the invervention of the State.

12:46PM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

"This is wrong - the bill must not be approved."

Yet you probably couldn't even give a good and or logical realistic reason for why it shouldn't be approved. If you want to know why Christianity is losing so many supporters, go look in the mirror.

There is so much love that gays can give children who need to be adopted. I was adopted and raised by lesbian moms, they loved me with all their hearts. I couldn't ask for better parents.

Your real family are the people who raise and love you, not the people who gave birth to you. A good friend of mine told me that, and it's never been more true.

11:32AM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

This is why the State Government supported PRoposition 8.
40,000 children live with gay biological and adoptive or foster parents. Many are waiting for homes. There is no evidence that gay parents influence their childrens' sexual orientation.
When parents and children, rarely, share a sexual orientation, it is probably genetic. Many such children live in heterosexual
families where the parent is not out. I am MOrmon and ashamed of the LDS Church's interference in both the Romney candicy and California politics--this interference was VERY divisive within the LDS Church. Protest yard clean up days worked better than the demonstrations in CA, though both had their place. Too much has been made of petty vandalism--the church pays the unemployed to fix those windows and they need work.

7:23AM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

I have been given the opportunity to become involved with theG/L/B/T community via my gay child. Over the last several years I have observed the warmth, love, support and strong family bonding with adopted/fostered children raised by our family and friends. Every child should be so fortunate to live in such a home. How many children are murdered/battered by their heterosexual "parents" each and every day. LOVE IS A FAMILY VALUE which is definitely a major part of our children's lives.

6:12AM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

Kids need homes - as a therapist I have to share with the group that the longer a kid is in foster care, and moved from family to family, the higher the probability of the child developing Reactive Attachment Disorder - this condition has many symptoms and is correlated to extremely severe mental health issues in later life. It's crazy making to hear the argument that children should be prevented from being adopted into loving families because of the sexual orientation of potential adoptive parents. These kids need homes - it's also not lost on me, or others I hope, that the vast majority of these kids were removed from heterosexual parents who were found to be dangerous to their children via neglect, physical and sexual abuse. Clearly this does not account for all the children in foster care - however, the statistics demonstrate that former.
Kids need homes - not legislation that keeps them from developing relationships where they are loved, care for and provided for in families that are committed to them.

6:54PM PDT on Oct 27, 2009

i'm sick and tire of all this anti gay issues if its not that its that ect.. Im tire it should stop i don't see why can a gay couple adopt and have a family as all the rest its not fair its RIDICULOUS as someone said what happen with our constitution ALL MAN ARE CREATED EQUAL. wake up dam it

11:57AM PDT on Oct 27, 2009

I am a gay male who has been raising a child since he was 12. He just turned 17 two days ago. I am a friend of his family and his oldest (adopted and straight) brother rented a room at my house for 11 years. When the kid I'm raising was 9 the woman who adopted him died suddenly. The next 3 years of his life were spent moving from one family member to another and the last place he was at was deplorable. I asked his brother if he would help me raise him and said he would. Three months later he moved out and I was left to raise his brother on my own. After every thing the kid has been through it's no wonder he has a lot of anger and since I'm the only one left, I have to deal with it. I get no financial help from his family or anyone else. He spent all of last year going to counseling (court ordered) twice a week and his behavior is the same. I have worked really hard trying to teach "my son" the importance of being appreciative and respectful, but his anger still prevents him from changing. I am now in the process of getting him to another therapist and hope that it will help him. I have learned that raising a child with a troubled past is very difficult, but I am still glad he can depend on me being there for him no matter what.

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