LGBT Adoption and Marriage Equality in California

Representative Pete Stark (D-Calif), U.S. House member from California on Tuesday introduced legislation that would bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in adoption cases.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act, HR 3827, which has 33 original co-sponsors, would restrict federal funds for states that allow discrimination in adoption or foster care placement based on the sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity of potential parents — as well as LGBT children seeking homes.

Some states recently have taken steps to inhibit potential LGBT parents from adopting. Last month, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed legislation that would give primary consideration in adoptive placement to opposite-sex married couples. Additionally, Virginia’s State Board of Social Services recently rejected adding protections against discrimination in adoption cases on the basis of sexual orientation as well as other statuses.

There is strong consensus in the medical, psychological, and social welfare communities that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents, based the research supporting this. Based on the evidence and research, the Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida was satisfied in 2010 that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption. Although California is ahead of many states in that it allows LGBT adoption, Stark’s bill HR 3827 prohibits the all too common discrimination that persists despite the fact the LGBT adoption is legal in California.

Representative Stark has billed the legislation as a way to ensure that children in the foster care system have access to a greater number of adoptive families — including households with single parents or same-sex parents.

“What’s in the child’s best interest is what the bill is trying to promote,” Stark said. “There is no information that shows that children raised by a single parent or gay or lesbian parent households have any more or less problems than all other children.”

According to Stark’s office, the U.S. government spends more than $7 billion each year on a foster care system against potential single and LGBT parents and allows around 25,000 children age out annually. More than 500,000 children are in foster care and 120,000 of them available for adoption.

Disqualifying LGBT parents from adoption because of sexual orientation is wrong, especially when so many children are in foster care waiting to be adopted. The current patchwork of unfair state laws and policies denies many children the safety, stability and love they would have with adoptive parents. And I know personally many LGBT families who are loving and devoted parents and who have adopted and are giving children who would otherwise be in the dismal foster care system, a wonderful home and childhood. To not pass this legislation would be a huge disservice to these children who need loving homes.

Perhaps small steps like this will help lead the way to full marriage and family equality for all.