FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLANS FOR REINTRODUCTION OF EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY ACT
Sen. Gillibrand, Reps Lewis & Ros-Lehtinen Offer Solution to Foster Care Crisis
Washington, DC (May. 7, 2013) – Family Equality Council and PFLAG National, the nation’s leading advocates for families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents and children, today praised Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL ) for announcing the planned bipartisan reintroduction of the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” (ECDF).
The proposed legislation would help solve our nation’s foster care crisis by dramatically increasing foster children’s access to permanent and stable homes by limiting federal funding for foster care or adoption programs that discriminate against potential foster and adoptive families due to marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved. There are currently 400,000 children in the foster care system. National surveys show that as many as two million LGBT people would consider fostering or adopting if existing barriers were eliminated.
The announcement by the lead House and Senate sponsors comes during National Foster Care Month.
“I am very proud to serve as a lead House sponsor of this significant legislation,” said Rep. John Lewis. “This bill highlights why discrimination in any form is unreasonable in a civilized society. You do the math. Our society has the chance to eradicate the foster care adoption problem entirely, if we pass this bill. The persistence of discriminatory policy robs us of that opportunity. With this bill, we mandate that agencies put nothing before the happiness and well-being of our children and use every measure to place them with willing, capable adoptive families, regardless of their make-up. Every healthy family has an equal opportunity to give a child a home.”
“New York has been a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and set a great example for the rest of the country,” U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said. “Every child deserves a loving home, and it is just wrong to keep children from a brighter future with a loving family by discriminating against adoptive parents based on their sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity. By removing all barriers for loving, committed LGBT couples to serve as foster parents we will uphold a core American value. I hope we can come together and pass this important legislation that would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes.”
“I’m proud to join Congressman John Lewis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “This common-sense legislation that will open the hearts and homes of so many parents who are qualified and ready to give all their love and nurturing to children who are in the foster care system. All children deserve the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful home life with loving parents. Our bill will decrease the length of time that a child has to wait for a permanent home with a loving family by preventing discrimination in adoption and foster care placements based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Without this legislation, many families who are longing to provide children with an adequate home environment will continue to be arbitrarily turned away on the subjective and prejudicial basis of who they are.”
The press conference was also attended by foster and adoptive families from New York, Georgia and Florida.
FOSTER/ADOPTIVE PARENTS DISCUSS IMPACT ON CHILDREN
Martin Gill, adoptive dad and foster parent to over 25 children said, “I know first-hand the harm that laws banning adoption by gay people can do. As a foster parent for the last ten years, I have also seen the harm that comes to the many kids who don’t get adopted. If there is even one child out there that has no one to call mom or dad, no forever family, we have to try harder.” Gill and his partner successfully challenged Florida’s 33-year old ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
Mary T. Keane, of Yonkers, New York, said, “This bill is critical to ensuring that every child has a chance to thrive. As an adoptive and foster mother to over 20 teens, I have seen the difference that a stable home and loving family can make.” Keane works with teenage adoption placement agency You Gotta Believe! as a Family Permanency Advocate.
“We recognized early in our relationship that we had a lot to offer a child and felt strongly about extending our lives to children in foster care,” said Philip McAdoo of Atlanta, Georgia. “The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would help other qualified parents open up their hearts to children in need of a home.” McAdoo and his partner, Sean Cavanaugh adopted 7-year-old Zaden after two years of waiting for the foster care system to place a child in their care.
FAMILY ADVOCATES DISCUSS FOSTER CARE CRISIS
“The single biggest problem our nation’s foster care system is facing is a lack of available, stable, and loving homes,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for the Family Equality Council. “The time has come to fix the patchwork of adoption and foster care laws across the country and help young people in care have every opportunity to find a home. The welfare of our nation’s children is not and should not be a partisan issue and we look forward to creating broad and bipartisan support for this bill to ensure that every child finds their forever family.”
“In our 40 years of experience supporting parents and children all over the country, we have seen the positive effects parental support can make in the life of a child,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby. “Why, then, should more than 400,000 children remain in foster care—104,000 of whom are eligible for adoption—when they could receive this support from loving, capable, and qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents? This is truly discrimination at its worst: hurtful to the people who are being denied the opportunity to become parents, and harmful to thousands of vulnerable children being denied the opportunity for stable, loving, permanent homes.”
For more information on ECDF, visit www.familyequality.org/everychild
Family Equality Council connects, supports and represents three million parents who are LGBT and their six million children. We work to change attitudes and policies across the country to ensure all families are respected, loved, and celebrated. For 30 years, our community has stood together to raise our children and raise our voices toward fairness for all.To learn more, please visit www.familyequality.org.
Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and straight ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with LGBT people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now in its 40th anniversary year, PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, please visit www.pflag.org.