Democratic lawmakers are pushing for passage of a bill that would prevent adoption providers from implementing guidelines that exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) parents.
Rep. Danny Davis and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have formally reintroduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or religion in the provision of child welfare programs and services by entities receiving federal funding,” according to an official summary of the bill. The legislation has been renamed the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act for its previous sponsor, the late Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis.
Davis said that children in foster care are among the most vulnerable individuals in society.
“Government has a unique responsibility to ensure that each and every child in foster care finds a loving, affirming family, not just the right ones, not just the black ones, not just the Christian ones, and not just the straight ones,” Davis, an Illinois Democrat, said during a news conference about the bill hosted by the organization Family Equality. “Although there is a shortage of foster parents in every state, several states allow taxpayer-funded agencies to turn away otherwise qualified, caring parents due to their religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.”
Gillibrand said that no adoption providers should be allowed to turn away parents based on their religion, marital status or gender.
“There are so many families who are ready, willing and waiting to bring these children into their homes but are blocked from doing so by organizations that discriminate against potential parents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or religion, and this has to change,” she said.
“Organizations that receive taxpayer dollars cannot be allowed to discriminate against caring and responsible foster and adoptive parents,” she added. “Our legislation would end this outrageous discriminatory policy, help give more children a loving home and create a system that supports the best interest of our children, foster and adoptive parents alike.”
Gillibrand also said the bill would ban conversion therapy in foster care.
“Our bill would prohibit discrimination against children and youth in foster care systems on the basis of religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and would bar harmful practices like conversion therapy in foster care,” she said. “That is especially important because LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care. Our legislation would require data collection on LGBTQ youth and families so that we can better monitor those trends and issues, and it would establish a dedicated National Resource Center for the LGBTQ youth in foster care within the Department of HHS.”
The New York Democrat argued that the bill is long overdue.
“I believe that everyone has a right to have a loving and supportive family and this legislation will help us make that right a reality for more parents and more children,” she said.