Dale Liuzza and his partner welcomed a son into their family eight years ago. Living in Louisiana, a state that prohibits second-parent adoption, only one of the dads could adopt their son, leaving Dale without any legal ties to his child. When the unthinkable happened – the relationship ended and Dale’s partner moved away with their son – Dale had no legal recourse: in the eyes of Louisiana, he was a stranger to the son he’d raised for seven years. Sadly, Dale’s story is not an anomaly; thousands of children being raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents lack a legal relationship to both of their parents.
Today, Family Equality Council released a report detailing the patchwork of state parenting laws across the nation, explicitly showing the devastating effects of these discriminatory policies on children raised by LGBT parents. Securing Legal Ties for Children Living in LGBT Families: A State Strategy and Policy Guide was published the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress in partnership with Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the Equality Federation.
Just one month ago, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality. Across the country, support for marriage equality, second-parent and joint adoption, and nondiscrimination measures is increasing: in Maryland alone, polls show a 20% increase among African Americans in support for marriage equality after the President’s announcement. In Congress, bills like the Every Child Deserves a Family Act and the Respect for Marriage Act enjoy bipartisan support.
It would be nice to imagine that the president’s words, the support of a growing number of federal lawmakers, and increasing public support across the nation would support our families, but the reality is that sentiment is insufficient. Insufficient for Dale Liuzza and his son, living in Louisiana. Insufficient for the children being raised in the over 30 states that prevent them from having a legal relationship with both of their parents.
Stories like Dale’s abound: he’s actually a friend of Steve Majors, Family Equality’s Director of Communications. And for each story that is shared with a friend, there are dozens of unshared stories, hundreds of families living in fear of the unthinkable, thousands of children who are legal strangers to their parents. The release of today’s report brings the lives of these families to light, but we must advocate together to bring them to full equality.