Giving Thanks for Family

As a mother, I am grateful every day for the blessing of my family
and committed to ensuring that my children are happy, health, loved
and cared for.  This week, as I prepare to celebrate this time of
thanksgiving, my heart goes out to children who have a very
different existence than that of my children. These are the more
than 400, 000 children in foster care, who have no permanent family
to call their own this Thanksgiving. Because of discriminatory
state laws and outdated policies, those who want so much to be moms
and dads and also happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender cannot open up their hearts and homes to these

There is hope that could change in time.

This month, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act was introduced
 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and a companion bill in the
House now has 82 bi-partisan co-sponsors thanks to the work of lead
sponsor, Rep. Pete Stark (CA).

This bill would ensure that our country is doing everything
possible to move children out of the foster care system and into
permanent loving homes. It would eliminate discrimination in foster
and adoption placement policies based on the marital status, sexual
orientation or gender identity of the prospective parents.

Also this month, President Obama issued a proclamation
in recognition of National Adoption Month that clearly expresses
his belief that adoptive families come in all forms.

It also represents his belief and ours that adoption decisions
should be based on the best interests of children and that all
qualified caregivers should be allowed to serve as adoptive

We are making incredible progress, and it’s because there are
moms and dads all over the country who are incredible advocates in
their daily lives. People who recognize that the only way for
circumstances to change is to do something about it. People

  • John Armantrout of San Diego who was forced to hide his
    relationship with his spouse, Larry Moreno because of the
    now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.  Armantrout ended his
    service to our country so the two could facilitate the adoption of
    both their sons, Mike and Tristion.

  • Rob Keeling, an adoptive dad in Virginia and a former board
    member of Family Equality Council,
    who spoke out eloquently this year
    demanding that his state
    prevent child welfare agencies from discriminating against
    qualified loving parents, simply because of their sexual
    orientation or family status.

Until Congress passes the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, we
must all work to make a difference in whatever ways we can. The
people above have answered the call and done what they could to
improve the lives of youth in foster care. Just like them, there
are simple and easy ways for you to incorporate this into your life
and have a huge impact.

One simple way is to urge your senators and representatives to
support this urgently-needed legislation.

Another way to is for you to recognize the loving parents who are
working in their every day lives to change laws, change the hearts
and minds of policymakers and actively change the lives of children
in their own communities. If you know someone like this, take the
time to thank them.

This Thanksgiving, as we sit around the table with our families, I
ask that you remember all of the children who should be sitting
around tables of their own in loving homes all across this country,
but who have yet to find their forever families.

Give thanks for all of the people who are making a difference in
the lives of these children, in ways both big and small.

I am thankful each and every day to be part of a community of
people who care, and who are committed to creating a better world
for all families. I am thankful for you, and all that you will do
on behalf of the Family Equality community.