U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is introducing legislation that aims to stop discrimination in adoption and foster care agencies. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would prohibit any entity that receives federal funds from discriminating against adoptive or foster parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
Gillibrand says as many as two million LGBT people would adopt, but many states ban same-sex couples from adopting or fostering children. An estimated 402,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system. And the Democrat says in her state, New York, 5,800 children are waiting to be adopted. "It's unacceptable that there are still states in this country with discriminatory laws that prevent LGBT couples or LGBT individuals who want to adopt or become foster parents from being able to do so. It's a clear case of ideology getting in the way of reality. And even more states, I can count at least two dozen of them, remain silent on this issue, leaving prospective LGBT parents, who want to adopt, without any options. And then there are states that might have LGBT family adoption laws but aren't helping LGBT foster parents. The absence of a national policy leaves us with a patchwork of state laws and thousands and thousands of children denied the chance to grow up in a safe, loving home with loving parents."
Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The LGBT Community Center in New York City, says at least 1 in 5 young people in foster care identify as LGBT. "So it's critical for legislation like this to pass and put pressure on states to abandon discriminatory practices in adoption and foster care placement based on sexual orientation and gender identity."
Gillibrand doesn't fear resistance from the conservative right. "For many people this is an idealogic issue, and I think we should push past ideology and support children first."
Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan Schaefer says it’s love that defines a family: "Not someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. It's great that we are now looking to ensure that all families are treated equally under the law, an exciting 'next step' in the movement for LGBT equality across the country."
New York is one of seven states that explicitly ban discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation.
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Michigan prohibit same-sex couples from jointly adopting.
Four other states restrict same-sex couples from using the second-parent adoption process.