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Gillibrand Introduces Legislation to End Adoption Discrimination

Gillibrand Introduces Legislation to End Adoption Discrimination

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced legislation Friday that would help almost half a million children in foster care find homes by ending the far-reaching discrimination against LGBT adoptive parents.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would eliminate state laws, policies and practices that exclude prospective adoptive and foster parents because of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. More than 400,000 children await homes in the nation's foster care system, and some 100,000 are waiting to be adopted.

According to a news release from the senator's office, "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."

The All Children Matter report released this week illustrated how a jumble of state and federal laws create barriers for LGBT adoptive parents and cause widespread suffering for millions of adults and children. According to the report, five states - Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and North Carolina - ban joined adoption by LGBT parents, while the law remains unclear in 28 states and promotes vulnerabilities for families.

"New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country," said Gillibrand in the news release. "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."

The introduction of the legislation was long awaited in the Senate. Rep. Pete Stark of California introduced a bill in the House in 2009 but it failed to advance. His re-introduced the bill in March.

"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 Stark in a statement. "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."

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, which co-authored this week's report, praised the introduction of the legislation.

"There is a child welfare crisis in our country," she said. "More than one-third of the children in foster care could be placed with a family right now, but state laws are eliminating loving and qualified parents simply because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Our country cannot continue to deny these children forever families because of the flawed patchwork of state laws."

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