Obama Calls for End to Discriminatory Parenting Laws

Obama Calls for End to Discriminatory Parenting Laws

When President Obama declared May to be National Foster Care Month this week, he included words never before included in a White House proclamation about adoption. Those words reflect the second time in 2015 the president called for transgender individuals and bisexuals, lesbians and gays be afforded their full civil rights. 

“With so many children waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status,” according to the proclamation. “That is why we are working to break down the barriers that exist and investing in efforts to recruit more qualified parents for children in foster care.”

Earlier this year, President Obama became the first president to acknowledge transgender and bisexual people in a State of the Union address. Fusion reports it appears he is the first president to explicitly say gender identity shouldn’t prevent anyone from adopting or becoming a foster parent.

The document also directly addressed LGBT children. “All young people, regardless of what they look like, which religion they follow, who they love, or the gender they identify with, deserve the chance to dream and grow in a loving, permanent home.”

This historic show of support comes two weeks after both Florida's State Senate and House voted to repeal that state's ban on LGBT couples from becoming foster care parents.

According to an analysis by the Human Rights Campaign, several other states including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas do not allow LGBT people to adopt or become a “second parent” to a child of a sex-partner with a child. While another "license to discriminate" bill was under consideration in Michigan, Nebraska stopped enforcing its 20-year-old ban on gay adoption in March.

As noted by Fusion, Obama said in a 2009 proclamation that his administration supported “adoption rights” for LGBT Americans. However, these are his first official comments explicitly mentioning gender identity.

“We’re thrilled that President Obama has recognized explicitly that LGBTQ youth in foster care, like all youth, deserve safe, loving, permanent homes if they can’t safely return home. And that LGBT foster and adoptive parents are a vastly underutilized resource,” said Currey Cook, director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest legal organization representing the interest of the LGBT community.

“Only a handful of states have explicit protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their child welfare systems. In order to realize the President’s incredibly important goals, youth and potential foster and adoptive parents must know they will be safe and treated equitably,” Cook told Fusion.

According to an analysis by UCLA’s Williams Institute, the vast majority of transgender parents report that their relationships with their children are good or positive, including after “coming out” as transgender or transitioning. 

But researchers found almost twice as many transgender youth live in foster care, along with other lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning kids, compared to those living with their birth parents. 
 
Discrimination remains rampant. The 2014 study found 12.9 percent of LGBT young people reported being treated poorly, compared to 5.8 percent of non-LGBTQ youth. 
 
The president’s proclamation coincided with a blog post by the Donaldson Adoption Institute, which criticized anti-LGBT adoption laws and endorsed nationwide marriage equality in support of thousands of youth in need of foster or adoptive parents.
 
April Dinwoodie and Kimberly Paglino authored the post, titled, “In Good Conscience,” and outlined the significant positive impact nationwide marriage equality could have on children.
 
“We cannot, as a country, espouse the principle of equality in theory only; our actions must always reflect this core value as well. DAI urges our supporters to stand with us in opposing any law, policy or regulation that treats families unequally and harms children."
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