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Filed under: Adoption

Bill to end discrimination against adoptive parents based on LGBT and marital status to be introduced in Congress

By Scottie Thomaston

Attribution: dsoc.senate.gov
Attribution: dsoc.senate.gov

Today, a bipartisan group of Senators and Congresspeople are introducing a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in adoption and foster care. The effort to pass the “Every Child Deserves a Family” Act will be led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). A press conference will be held today with families led by same-sex couples.

The bill would restrict federal funding to discriminating states, and help open the homes of “more than 2,000,000″ LGBT families to adopted and foster children. The Family Equality Council points out that state adoption laws are generally unclear, and most have no non-discrimination policy spelled out, leaving lots of uncertainty. They also point out that the bill is supported by medical and civil rights organizations:

Professional associations in the fields of child welfare, medicine, psychology and public health, and civil rights advocates have taken official positions in support of the ability of qualified LGBT and unmarried couples to foster and adopt. Among these organizations are the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers, North American Council on Adoptable Children, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics. A broad coalition of faith groups supports the Ever Child Deserves a Family Act.

Amanda Terkel, writing in the Huffington Post, suggests that recent developments are seen as a positive sign for the bill. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two marriage cases in late March (a decision is expected in late June) and indeed even some of the Justices referenced the children who are currently being raised by same-sex couples in California. (Justice Kennedy suggested that those voices are important in the Prop 8 case.) And some Republicans are changing their minds on some LGBT issues: Senator Rob Portman recently announced he’s in favor of marriage equality, and Rep. Paul Ryan has suggested he no longer opposes adoption by same-sex couples.

A press release from Senator Gillibrand’s office says the bill will impact hundreds of thousands of children:

[...]Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and there are more than 104,000 children currently waiting to be adopted, including 6,400 in New York. LGBT couples or individuals who want to adopt or become foster parents still face discrimination in more than 30 states.

At the press conference tomorrow, “Congress Members will be joined by Mary Keane and her daughter Anni from New York, Philip McAdoo, Sean Cavanaugh and their son Zaden from Atlanta, and Martin Gill and his sons from Miami to tell their stories.”

2 Comments May 7, 2013

News on anti-discrimination bills in Utah, Nebraska, and West Virginia

By Scottie Thomaston

Yesterday, EqualityOnTrial covered the LGBT anti-discrimination bill in Utah that was reportedly backed by the Mormon church. That bill died in the legislature yesterday, before it even reached the floor:

on sexual orientation and gender identity died before it even hit the Senate floor.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, announced Monday he would not bring SB 262 to the Senate floor for debate because there was not enough support in the chamber for it to be considered.

“Why, if we don’t have the votes, do we want to spend the time?” he told reporters.

SB 262, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, has gone the farthest in the six years non-discrimination bills have been run through the Utah State Legislature. At a news conference late Monday, the bill’s sponsors were frustrated it died so quickly.

“I’m disappointed there won’t be a roll call vote,” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, the only openly gay lawmaker in the legislature. “But that’s the way it goes in politics.”

The bill had passed out of the Senate committee but it appears legislators counted the votes and found there was a significant gap between the yes and no votes.

In other news, three bills affecting LGBT rights will be taken up in the judiciary committee in Nebraska on Thursday. There’s a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and two related to anti-gay discrimination in adoption practices. More information on those bills, including the text of the bills, is here.

On Friday, an inclusive anti-discrimination bill was introduced in the West Virginia Senate. The bill bans discrimination against LGBT people in housing, and it also bans employment discrimination. The bill will reportedly be introduced in the House of Delegates in West Virginia soon.

March 12, 2013

Second-parent adoption upheld in lesbian Georgia couple’s divorce case

By Jacob Combs

The GA Voice reports that the Georgia Court of Appeals has upheld a lesbian couple’s second-parent adoption, although the court declined to address the state’s marriage equality ban on the legality of second-parent adoptions in general.  The complex case arose after Nicole Bates, who became pregnant through a sperm donation in 2007, requested that her partner Tina be allowed to adopt the child as a second legal parent.  A Fulton County judge approved the adoption.  From the GA Voice:

In 2010, the couple broke up and the biological mother, Nicole Bates, went back to Judge Glanville and asked the adoption be voided. Judge Glanville told Nicole Bates that she did not file within the six-month time limit allowed to challenge adoption cases, so the second-parent adoption was still legal.

Not satisfied, Nicole Bates appealed the judge’s decision to the Court of Appeals, which eventually dismissed the case. Nicole Bates went to the state Supreme Court seeking to void the adoption of her former partner, but the state Supreme Court also decided to not hear the case.

Tina then filed for custody of the child, but when the Georgia Supreme Court would not hear the case, Nicole filed a motion asking Henry County to dismiss Tina’s request since Georgia does not allow second-parent adoptions between couples who are not married.  A state judge in Henry County sided with Nicole, but Tina requested that an appeals court invalidate the ruling, arguing that the case had already been decided in Fulton County.  The Court of Appeals sided with Tina, but stated clearly in its decision that it decided “nothing in this case about whether Georgia law permits a ‘second parent’ adoption.”

You can read the court’s full ruling below.

6 Comments July 20, 2012

Sen. Gillibrand introduces Every Child Deserves a Family Act

By Adam Bink

Via e-mail:

GILLIBRAND INTRODUCES EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY ACT

 

Legislation Would Open More Loving Homes To Children By Ending Discrimination Against Adoptive Parents Based On Sexual Orientation

 

Nationwide, More Than 100,000 Children Currently Waiting To Be Adopted

 

31 States Discriminate Against LGBT Families

 

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that she will introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation that would open more homes to foster children by working with states to end discrimination against adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and there are more than 107,000 children currently waiting to be adopted, including 6,600 in New York.  LGBT couples or individuals who want to adopt or become foster parents still face discrimination in more than 30 states.

 

“New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York State has increased its foster parent pool by 128,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.”

 

“I applaud Senator Gillibrand for introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in the Senate as we look forward to celebrating National Adoption Month in November,” saidCongressman Pete Stark (D-CA).  “This legislation is about finding solid, permanent and loving homes for the 107,000 foster children waiting to be adopted.  That’s why 76 of my colleagues have joined me in sponsoring the House version.  It is time to put the best interests of children first and remove all discriminatory barriers in our child welfare system.”

 

While most states permit single LGBT parents to adopt, many do not allow LGBT couples to adopt. Currently, five states prohibit same-sex couples from adopting (Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan). There are 6 states that ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner’s children.

 

More than two dozen states remain silent on how prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents should be treated. Their lack of non-discrimination policies for same-sex couples leave children vulnerable to agencies and case workers’ biases, resulting in children being denied the benefit of placement with qualified, loving LGBT parents.

 

A 2001 University of Los Angeles study showed that LGBT couples are just as “fit, effective and successful as similar heterosexual parents.” There are two million LGBT people who have considered becoming adoptive or foster parents, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. Currently 65,000 adopted children currently live with a gay or lesbian parent. In 2008, a Williams Institute study found that more than 10,500 same-sex couples are raising over 21,000 children in New York State.

In 2010, nearly 28,000 youth nationwide “aged out” of the foster care system. Research shows that these youth are at a high risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood.

The Every Child Deserves A Family Act would prohibit an entity that receives federal assistance and is involved in adoption or foster care placements from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Congress annually invests more than $8 billion into the child welfare system, and many of these children could be adopted by LGBT couples if the bans in local jurisdictions were removed.

 

LGBT COUPLES BY REGION

Region

Number of LGBT Couples

Capital Region

2,103

Central New York

1,948

Hudson Valley

4,823

Long Island

5,245

New York City

25,906

North Country

787

Rochester/Finger Lakes Region

2,621

Southern Tier

852

Western New York

2,032

*The Williams Institute

29 Comments October 28, 2011