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What Would this Legislation Do?

     

Bill Number:
The bill was introduced in the House as H.R. 2028 by Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtenin (R-FL) on May 16, 2013, and in the Senate as S. 1069 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on May 23, 2013.

What this Bill Will Do:
The Every Child Deserves a Family (ECDF) Act would prohibit any child welfare service provider receiving federal assistance and 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, or on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.

The bill also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide support for service providers to ensure understanding of the legal, practice, and culture changes required by this legislation in making foster care and adoption placement decisions.

The General Accounting Office is also required to complete a study and report to Congress on whether states have substantially complied with this Act in eliminating policies, practices, or laws that deny adoption rights on the basis of these criteria.

PFLAG Talking Points:

  • This bill increases the number of safe and supportive homes available to children. ECDF is a federal bill that increases the number of qualified individuals eligible to become adoptive or foster parents by restricting federal funding for states employing discriminatory practices in adoption and foster care placements based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Enacting the bill would increase adoptions rates, as well as establishing permanency and decreasing risk factors for youth in foster care yielding an annual cost savings between $3 - $6 billion.
  • This legislation is about putting the best interests of the child first. ECDF, a child welfare bill, promotes the best interests of the children in the foster care system by increasing their access to the safe and supportive homes of more than 2,000,000 additional LGBT people who would consider serving as foster or adoptive parents but face barriers due to existing state laws, regulations and policies prohibiting them from doing so.
  • Right now, the lack of uniform protections eliminates good parents from opening their homes for completely arbitrary reasons. The majority of states lack non-discrimination policies and remain silent on how prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents are to be considered. Moreover, many states like Utah, Mississippi, Nebraska and Utah have policies and practices that adversely impact LGBT and unmarried parents. This lack of clear guidance leaves children vulnerable to the individual biases of agencies and case workers and has resulted in children being denied the benefit.
  • LGBT parents are already successfully raising happy, healthy children. Approximately 1 million LGBT parents are already raising about 2 million children in the U.S. according to data taken from the 2000 Census. An estimated 27 percent of same-sex couples have at least one child under 18 living in their home. Some states already apply non-discrimination principles in their foster care and adoption practices to great success. Currently, some states – CA, MD, MA, NV, NJ, and NY – affirmatively allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly.
  • Scientific research supports the goals of this bill. More than 40 years of scientific research overwhelmingly confirms that children raised in LGBT-headed household have the same advantages and same expectations for health, social and psychological adjustment, and development as children whose parents are heterosexual.

Important Notes:

  • As of publication in October 2013, the House version of this bill has 79 co-sponsors and the Senate version has 11 co-sponsors.
  • The bill is in the first stage of the legislative process where it is being considered in the House Ways & Means and the Senate Finance Committees where it may undergo changes in markup sessions.
  • A broad range of social service, professional and advocacy organizations have expressed support for LGBT parenting, including the American Psychological Association, the American Bar Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the American, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children.