Adoption anti-discrimination bill gets reboot

Johnson, DC

adoption anti-discrimination bill previously introduced in the U.S.
House is set to get a new start this week when the bill’s sponsor
reintroduces it with modified language.

Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the Every Child Deserves a
Family Act, is planning to reintroduce the bill — which would
prohibit discrimination against LGBT people seeking to adopt
children — after having introduced it for the first time last

on March 11, Stark plans to lead a congressional briefing panel on
Capitol Hill featuring discussion from experts on LGBT adoption.
The dialogue is intended to educate lawmakers on the bill’s

Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, said
the reintroduced legislation would be similar in scope to the
previously introduced bill, except it would make technical changes
and allow for new education opportunities for programs helping
children find homes.

bill added some language around training and education to help
people understand what it is that they can and should do when it
comes to looking for potential parents,” she said.

earlier version of the adoption anti-discrimination bill has 14
co-sponsors. Chrisler said the co-sponsors for the earlier
legislation would go to the newer version upon its

bar discrimination against LGBT people seeking to adopt, the
proposed legislation would restrict federal funds for states that
have laws or practices barring LGBT people from taking children
into their homes.

three states bar LGBT people from adopting children. Another seven
states don’t permit same-sex couples to jointly adopt. Florida,
for example, has a statute in place prohibiting gays from adopting,
while Arkansas voters in 2008 approved Act 1, which prevents all
co-habitating unmarried couples from adopting children.

laws in 34 other states are unclear about whether same-sex couples
may jointly adopt, sometimes resulting in

said the legislation is intended to provide an incentive for states
so they don’t discriminate and instead “focus on what’s in
the best interest of the children, which is really finding the
right home for that particular child.”

legislation, Chrisler said, would help thousands of children in
foster care throughout the country find new homes.

is fundamentally, at its heart, a child welfare bill that seeks to
open up more pools of potential parents to provide a loving, stable
home environment to children who need those homes,” she

said about 500,000 children in the U.S. are in the foster care
system, and about 120,000 are legally available for

who never find homes have been found to be at greater risk for
various problems as they enter adulthood. Chrisler said in 2007,
more than 25,000 youth “aged out” of the foster care system,
and these children were at higher risk for poverty, homelessness,
incarceration and early parenthood.

bill like this helps shine a light on the fact that the more
available parents that we have to provide loving, permanent homes
for children who need them, the better the outcomes for those kids
will be,” Chrisler said.

said research from the Williams Institute, a think-tank on sexual
orientation at the University of California, Los Angeles, shows
that more than 2 million LGBT people throughout the country have
considered becoming parents, but are barred from existing state
laws from doing so.

even a quarter of them became foster or adoptive parents, it would
meet the needs of all 500,000 children waiting in the foster care
system,” she said.

Every Child Deserves a Family Act is modeled after the Multi-Ethnic
Placement Act of 1994 as amended in 1996, which similarly prohibits
states from receiving federal funds if they engage in racial or
ethnic discrimination when placing children into homes.

whether she thinks Congress will pass the legislation this year,
Chrisler expressed uncertainty but noted that advocates will
continue to support its passage.

optimistic that we can leverage this bill to have really good
educational conversations,” she said. “I think as anybody who
has watched Congress knows, the process of making a bill into a law
is a complicated one, but we are going to put all of our energy and
all our resources into trying to do just that.”

said Stark is optimistic the bill will have a hearing in the House
Ways & Means subcommittee to which it’s been

also said advocates are working on getting a Senate companion for
the bill introduced, although she declined to disclose which
senator she was seeking as a sponsor for the