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House lawmakers Tuesday introduced a bill that would prohibit organizations receiving federal funds from denying adoptions or foster care placements to prospective LGBT parents.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act, sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark of California, would "prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status" of potential adoptive or foster parents.
It would also bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of the child. According to the Family Equality Council, 25,000 children "age out" of the foster care system each year and are not placed with adoptive parents. As a result, such children are at greater risk of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration.
"We simply cannot afford to exclude millions of prospective parents willing to take these children simply because of their sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity," Family Equality Council executive director Jennifer Chrisler said in a statement.
Parity for LGBT parents in the adoption system has been undermined by recent antigay legislation in some states. Last month Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that would give preference to married heterosexual couples in adopting children. The legislation's aim is to prevent gay parents from adopting in the state, LGBT advocates argue.
"The governor's action ... is harmful to children in foster care and group homes who are seeking a permanent home and the support of a loving, caring family," Equality Arizona board chairman Tom Mann said following the bill's passage.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act is supported by LGBT and child welfare groups including Family Equality Council, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
The House legislation currently has 34 cosponsors (text of the bill can be found here). A Senate version has yet to be introduced.