Target: Representatives John Lewis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and members of Congress
Goal: Prohibit discrimination against adoptive and foster parents on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.
Congress recently reintroduced a bill that would ban discrimination against LGBT people who wish to adopt or become foster parents. The bill known as the Every Child Deserves A Family Act would prohibit public child welfare agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating against potential adoptive or foster parents on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. Federal funds would be withheld if evidence of such discrimination arises. The bill would also extend protection against discrimination to LGBT children within the system. Currently, 39 states have laws that make it very difficult–or impossible–for LGBT people to adopt or foster children. Even many states without strict laws still do not have nondiscrimination policies, which leaves the decisions up to individual agencies and caseworkers who may be biased.
This type of legislation is long overdue. According to the Family Equality Council, of the estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster system, about 104,000 are currently available for adoption. In addition, over 2 million additional LGBT people would consider becoming adoptive or foster parents if no prohibitive policies were in place. No child should be denied a safe, stable home with loving, willing parents due to discriminatory laws and agencies. This bill is not simply a gay rights act; it is a child welfare bill that increases the likelihood of permanent adoption. Children within the foster care system, particularly older children who are “aged out,” face a higher risk of poverty, incarceration, and teenage parenthood.
Laws already prohibit discrimination on the basis of race and religion for adoptive and foster parents. It is time to extend those protections to prospective LGBT parents. Sign the petition below to tell Congress that you support the Every Child Deserves A Family Act.
Dear Representatives Lewis and Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Gillibrand, and members of Congress,
Currently, 39 states have laws that make it very difficult or even impossible for LGBT people to become adoptive or foster parents. The laws and policies range from outright prohibition of adoption by LGBT people, to banning people in unmarried partnerships from adopting, to giving preference to married heterosexual couples over LGBT couples. Even the states without such restrictive policies still lack nondiscrimination laws. This oversight leaves the fate of the foster children and their potential families in the hands of individual agencies and caseworkers who may be biased. Despite the fact that prospective LGBT parents are licensed and qualified, many are still subjected to a more invasive, expensive, and time-consuming adoption process than compared to heterosexual individuals.
Estimates show that of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster system, about 104,000 are currently available for adoption. Research has shown that children within the foster care system are at a higher risk of teen parenthood, homelessness, poverty, and incarceration. These risks tend to increase the more time the child spends within the system. These statistics alone are heartbreaking. However, considering the fact that over 2 million additional LGBT people would consider being adoptive or foster parents if no discriminatory policies were in place, the numbers are downright outrageous. The fact that so many American children are being denied a stable home with loving, willing parents should weigh heavily on our country’s conscience.
Our current adoptive and foster care laws already protect against discrimination based on religion and race. Now is the time to pass the Every Child Deserves A Family Act. This is not strictly a gay rights issue nor a partisan issue. It is about the rights of children who are in desperate need of a family that loves and accepts them and a home where they are safe.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kurt Lowenstein Educational Center International Team via Wikimedia Commons