Tuesday saw introduction in the US House of a bill that would bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans prospective parents in adoption and foster care. The bill was introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and is called the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.
The Act would cut federal funds for states that allow discrimination in adoption and foster care based on an applicants’ sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
The bill currently has 33 original co-sponsors and, as reported earlier this year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is expected to offer counterpart legislation in the Senate within the next few months.
In a press conference on the introduction of the bill Stark said the legislation is concerned with ensuring the maximum number of children can be placed in loving and nurturing homes regardless of marital status or LGBT identity and that he hopes it will gain the Obama administration’s full support.
From The Washington Blade:
At the news conference, Stark billed the legislation as a means to ensure children living in the foster care system have access to a greater number of adoptive families — including households with single parents or same-sex parents.
“What’s in the child’s best interest is what the bill is trying to promote,” Stark said. “There is no information that shows that children raised by a single parent or gay or lesbian parent households have any more or less problems than all other children.”
According to Stark’s office, the U.S. government spends more than $7 billion each year on a foster care system against potential single and LGBT parents and allows around 25,000 children age out annually. More than 500,000 children are in foster care and 120,000 of them available for adoption.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), an original co-sponsor for the bill, said the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is necessary to eliminate discrimination against potential LGBT parents and to iron out the differences in adoption policy throughout the country.
“Automatically disqualifying LGBT parents from adoption just because of sexual orientation is wrong,” McGovern said. “It makes no sense, especially when so many children are in foster care waiting to be adopted. The current patchwork of unfair state laws and policies … is denying multiple kids to permanent safe and stable homes.”
Arizona recently adopted a law that means married heterosexuals are given preference when it comes to adoption or foster care placements. Read more on that here.
Virginia adoption officials also recently declined to widen non-discrimination rules to make them LGBT inclusive after the Republican administration heavily opposed the move. Read more on that here.
Currently, the White House has not given the bill explicit backing though a spokesperson for the Obama administration has said that the President is behind any measure that “breaks barriers” to ensure that “all qualified caregivers have the ability to serve as adoptive families.”
As yet, the bill has no Republican co-sponsors and because of its intrinsic connection to marriage issues it is expected to receive heavy GOP resistance, however Stark is noted as being confident that the bill could garner Republican support as he believes that adoption non-discrimination need not be a partisan issue.