Petition Closed
Petitioning Representative Paul Cook and 21 others
This petition will be delivered to:
Representative
Paul Cook
Representative
Rodney Alexander
Representative
Dave Camp
Representative
Mike Rogers 2
Representative
Ann Wagner
Senator
John McCain
Senator
Mitch McConnell
Senator
Thad Cochran
Senator
Lamar Alexander
Representative
Michele Bachmann
Representative
John Boehner
Senator
John Cornyn
Representative
Robert Aderholt
Representative
Randy Weber
Representative
Joe Kennedy
Representative
David Cicilline
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
New York State House
New York State Senate
President of the United States
New York Governor

Support the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681)

Please urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681) introduced by Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) on March 3rd, 2011. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has announced her intention to introduce the bill in the Senate soon.

What is the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681)

The legislation addresses the critical shortage of stable, safe and loving homes currently available to children in our foster care system. The legislation would set a federal baseline that puts an end to prejudiced restrictions that have denied an untold number of children the homes that they desperately need.
 
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would ban discrimination in adoption or foster care placement based on the sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity of the potential parent, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child.

The Problem

There are approximately 500,000 children in our foster care system right now. Over 125,000 of those are waiting to be adopted, but there are just not enough qualified adoptive and foster parents. That leads to nearly 25,000 youth "aging out" of care each year with no permanent family. These young people are more likely than nearly any other group to become homeless or incarcerated, or to suffer with mental illness or substance abuse.

There is an acute shortage of adoptive and foster parents. Yet, despite this fact and the documented terrible consequences of long stays in the child welfare system, some states have enacted discriminatory bans prohibiting children from being placed with qualified parents due solely to the parent's marital status or sexual orientation. A number of additional states are actively considering similar discriminatory restrictions.  Most recently, Arizona enacted a law to restrict the ability of unmarried and gay and lesbian individuals to adopt.  Only six states affirmatively allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt jointly.

This is unfair to good people who want to open their homes to youth, unimaginable for kids who just want a family to love them, and unsafe for children for whom we in this body are responsible.  If states will not do the right thing, the Federal government should.

Congress invests over $7 billion in the child welfare system each year. We should not accept policies that use Federal funds to enact discriminatory barriers to adoption and close the door to thousands of potential homes. Studies suggest that upwards of 2 million gay and lesbian individuals are interested in adopting or fostering a child. There are already approximately 1 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) parents raising about 2 million children in the U.S. Leading child welfare, public health, medical and legal organizations agree that opening up the homes of all qualified prospective parents can help support the unique needs of foster youth. Groups including the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, and the American Bar Association, all support the ability of qualified unmarried and LGBT couples to foster and adopt. More than 30 years of research indicates optimal development for children is based on the stable attachments to committed and nurturing parents, not on the marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity of the parents. This research consistently demonstrates that children raised by same-sex parents exhibit the same level of emotional, cognitive, social and sexual development outcomes as children raised by straight parents.

When considering a potential placement for a child, the only criteria should be what is in the child's best interest and whether the prospective parent can provide a safe and nurturing home.  Bigotry should play no part in this decision.  That is why I am introducing the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act."  This legislation would simply prohibit any entity that receives Federal child welfare funds from denying or delaying adoption or foster care placements based solely on the prospective parent's marital status or sexual orientation.  States and child welfare agencies that fail to end discriminatory practices would face financial penalties.  This is the same approach that has put an end to race discrimination in adoption and foster care placements.

Children in our foster care system are some of our most precious – and vulnerable – youth. They depend on us to do all we can to find them supportive and loving families, and it is our obligation to act in their best interests when doing so. To fail in our task of opening every possible door to stable, permanent and loving homes is a grave disservice to these children and to our country. We cannot allow divisive politics and the culture war to further harm these children by shrinking the number of prospective adoptive and foster parents.  I hope that all of my colleagues will join me in saying yes to children and no to bigotry by cosponsoring the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act." (Source: Congressman Pete Stark's Introduction for H.R. 1681).

What can you do to help pass Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681)

Don't let the media ignore this act! Please post this petition and Pete Stark's press release to your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and the like - tell your friends, family, and co-workers so that they can do the same thing. A Facebook page has also been created for the Act: http://www.facebook.com/EveryChildDeservesaFamily. Furthermore, Pete Stark's press release for the reintroduction of Every Child Deserves a Family Act may be found on his website here.

Please write or call your U.S. Representatives, Senators, and President Obama to declare your support for Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and ask that they co-sponsor the Act. You can find your representive here.

 


Letter to
Representative Paul Cook
Representative Rodney Alexander
Representative Dave Camp
and 19 others
Representative Mike Rogers 2
Representative Ann Wagner
Senator John McCain
Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator Lamar Alexander
Representative Michele Bachmann
Representative John Boehner
Senator John Cornyn
Representative Robert Aderholt
Representative Randy Weber
Representative Joe Kennedy
Representative David Cicilline
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
New York State House
New York State Senate
President of the United States
New York Governor
I am writing to you to ask you to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681).
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681), sponsored by U.S. Representative Pete Stark (D-CA 13), prohibits states from discriminating in the placement of foster and adoptive children on the basis of sexual orientation and allows federal funding to be cut off if such discriminatory practices are in place.

In the United States child welfare system, there is a shortage of qualified individuals willing to adopt or foster a child. As a result, thousands of foster children lack a permanent and safe home.

Of the estimated 500,000 children in the United States foster care system, over 125,000 cannot return to their original families and are legally free for adoption. 57,466 children were adopted in 2009, while 29,471 youth `aged out' of the foster care system. Research has shown that youth who `age out' of the foster care system are at a high risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood. However, increasing adoption rates, in addition to establishing permanency and decreasing risk factors for foster youth, can yield annual national cost savings between $3,300,000,000 and $6,300,000,000.

Studies suggest that upwards of 2 million gay and lesbian individuals are interested in adopting or fostering a child (Evan B. Donaldson Institute). There are already approximately 1 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) parents 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 1 child under 18 years of age living in the home. Leading child welfare, public health, medical and legal organizations agree that opening up the homes of all qualified prospective parents can help support the unique needs of foster youth.

Experts agree that in many States, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth experience discrimination, harassment, and violence in the foster care system because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Approximately 60 percent of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth were previously in foster care. According to the Urban Justice Center, many of these young people reported that living on the streets felt `safer' than living in their group or foster home.

Groups including the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, and the American Bar Association, all support the ability of qualified unmarried and LGBT couples to foster and adopt. More than 30 years of research indicates optimal development for children is based on the stable attachments to committed and nurturing parents, not on the marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity of the parents. This research consistently demonstrates that children raised by same-sex parents exhibit the same level of emotional, cognitive, social and sexual development outcomes as children raised by straight parents.

Over 14,000 children are currently in placements with gay, lesbian, and bisexual adoptive and foster parents. If other States followed the minority of States and discriminated against qualified individuals because of their sexual orientation or marital status, foster care expenditures would increase between $87,000,000 and $130,000,000 per year in order to pay for additional institutional and group care, as well as to recruit and train new foster and adoptive parents.

Some States allow 1 member of a same-sex couple to adopt, but do not recognize both members of the couple as the child's legal parents. Recognition of joint adoption provides children with the same rights and security that children of heterosexual parents enjoy. These protections include access to both parents' health benefits; survivor's, Social Security, and child support entitlements; legal grounds for either parent to provide consent for medical care, education, and other important decisions; as well as the establishment of permanency for both parents and child.

Therefore, I ask that the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate please vote yes when this bill comes before committee and the floor, and to co-sponsor this legislation. Lastly, I ask that President Obama sign it into law.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,