By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2013 11:24 AM ET
A bipartisan group of Congress members introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide clearer rights for same-sex couples who want to adopt children.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and representatives John Lewis of Georgia, both Democrats, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, will introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in both houses. The legislation would prohibit any public child welfare agency from receiving federal funding if they discriminate against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
The act was previously introduced in 2011 by Rep. Pete Stark of California and Sen. Gillibrand.
On Sunday, former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich asserted that religiously affiliated organizations are told they cannot discriminate against gay couples and families, so those organizations are the ones being oppressed.
"There are no rights for Catholics to have adoption services in Massachusetts. They're outlawed. There are no rights in DC for Catholics to have adoption service. They're outlawed," he said on Meet The Press. "Does it mean that you have to actually affirmatively eliminate any institution which does not automatically accept that, and therefore, you're now going to have a secular state say to a wide range of religious groups, Catholics, Protestants, orthodox Jews, Mormons, frankly, Muslims, 'You cannot practice your religion the way you believe it, and we will outlaw your institutions.' ... Let's just start with adoption services. It's impossible for the Catholic Church to have an adoption service in Massachusetts that follows Catholic doctrine."
TheGrio.com managing editor Joy-Ann Reid, who was also on the show, contended that the Catholic service organizations that coordinated adoptions opted to shut down their efforts rather than accommodate gay and lesbian couples.
"No one said they are not allowed to provide adoption services," she said, later adding, "I think the point is, is that you don't have the state attempting to tell religions what to believe. People, if they oppose the idea of gay marriage within their religion, have the absolute right to do so. The question is whether or not religious institutions can make public policy, whether they can enter the public policy."
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and 104,000 children are waiting to be adopted. Yet LGBT couples face discriminatory laws in 30 states.