Filed under: Adoption
Bill to end discrimination against adoptive parents based on LGBT and marital status to be introduced in Congress
By Scottie Thomaston
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.”
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.
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.