Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has confirmed to the Washington Blade that at some point in the future she will introduce legislation that, if enacted, would make it illegal to discriminate against gay couples on the basis of their sexuality when they come to adopt a child.
However, the Senator, who has been an outspoken advocate for such LGBT rights causes as the repeal of DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), declined to say when she’d make the legislation public and is also keeping the exact nature of the bill under wraps for now.
From the Washington Blade:
Asked by the Washington Blade whether she’d introduce the legislation, Gillibrand replied, “Yes.”
A Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Senate supporters of the legislation are developing a strategy for success over the coming months, but for time being Senator Gillibrand is focused on building momentum for bills introduced this week that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
In the previous Congress, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) introduced in the House legislation known as the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which aimed to bar adoption discrimination against LGBT families. As it was previously written, the bill would restrict federal funds for states if they have laws or practices that discriminate in adoption on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Brian Cook, a Stark spokesperson, said the House lawmaker is aiming to reintroduce the bill this spring in concert with the Senate companion.
Some states still have de facto bans on same-sex couples adopting by restricting marriage to one man and a woman and in tandem with this restricting adoption rights to married couples alone.
Advocates will be watching closely for this new legislation and especially how far it goes in prohibiting discrimination when factored against other existing legislation like the federal Defense of Marriage Act. While it is certainly true to say that effective nondiscrimination legislation could be passed with DOMA still on the books, the job would be made much easier should DOMA be overturned.
Of particular interest may be what the legislation has to say on second parent and joint adoptions, which, while several states do allow gay people to adopt, still remains a more contentious issue as it deals with legalese surrounding family and spousal rights, often a thorny subject if seen to conflict with state and federal marriage bans.
Florida, the only state to have an explicit ban on same-sex couples adopting, saw its ban overturned by a federal court, a decision which was upheld on appeal last year. You can read more about that here.
If you would like to find out about adoption laws with regards to same-sex couples as they stand in your state, you can click here.