Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Gillibrand Introduces Every Child Deserves A Family Act

Legislation Would Open More Loving Homes To Children By Ending Discrimination Against Adoptive Parents Based On Sexual Orientation

October 28, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that she will introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation that would open more homes to foster children by working with states to end discrimination against adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and there are more than 107,000 children currently waiting to be adopted, including 6,600 in New York.  LGBT couples or individuals who want to adopt or become foster parents still face discrimination in more than 30 states.

“New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York State has increased its foster parent pool by 128,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.”

“I applaud Senator Gillibrand for introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in the Senate as we look forward to celebrating National Adoption Month in November,” said Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA).  “This legislation is about finding solid, permanent and loving homes for the 107,000 foster children waiting to be adopted.  That's why 76 of my colleagues have joined me in sponsoring the House version.  It is time to put the best interests of children first and remove all discriminatory barriers in our child welfare system.”

While most states permit single LGBT parents to adopt, many do not allow LGBT couples to adopt. Currently, five states prohibit same-sex couples from adopting (Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan). There are 6 states that ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner’s children.

More than two dozen states remain silent on how prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents should be treated. Their lack of non-discrimination policies for same-sex couples leave children vulnerable to agencies and case workers’ biases, resulting in children being denied the benefit of placement with qualified, loving LGBT parents.

A 2001 University of Los Angeles study showed that LGBT couples are just as “fit, effective and successful as similar heterosexual parents.” There are two million LGBT people who have considered becoming adoptive or foster parents, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. Currently 65,000 adopted children currently live with a gay or lesbian parent. In 2008, a Williams Institute study found that more than 10,500 same-sex couples are raising over 21,000 children in New York State. 

In 2010, nearly 28,000 youth nationwide “aged out” of the foster care system. Research shows that these youth are at a high risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood.

The Every Child Deserves A Family Act would prohibit an entity that receives federal assistance and is involved in adoption or foster care placements from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Congress annually invests more than $8 billion into the child welfare system, and many of these children could be adopted by LGBT couples if the bans in local jurisdictions were removed.

LGBT COUPLES BY REGION

Region

Number of LGBT Couples

Capital Region

2,103

Central New York

1,948

Hudson Valley

4,823

Long Island

5,245

New York City

25,906

North Country

787

Rochester/Finger Lakes Region

2,621

Southern Tier

852

Western New York

2,032

*The Williams Institute