The Every Child Deserves A Family Act would prohibit state programs that receive federal funding from discriminating against potential foster and adoptive families on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
Proponents of the bill say that the momentum established by recent voter and legislative victories for same-sex marriage, coupled with increased support by GOP lawmakers, will give the measure the backing needed to pass in Congress this session.
The Family Equality Council said that Congressional sponsors will hold a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday to announce the bill.
In the House, the measure will be co-sponsored by Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.),is lead sponsor in the Senate.
According to the Family Equality Council, same-sex couples and LGBT individuals face considerable legal barriers in 39 states when attempting to adopt or foster children, and seven states ban a partner in a same-sex relationship from adopting their partner’s children.
“The current patchwork of state laws does a disservice to these children by denying them access to permanent, safe, and loving homes. In 2011, 26,000 youth “aged out” of the foster care system. Research shows that these youth are at a high risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood,” the Family Equality Council reports.
Article continues belowLast week, former GOP vice-presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, told a town hall audience that he regrets his 1999 vote in favor of banning gay adoptions in the District of Columbia.
“I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period. I would vote that way,” Ryan said.
Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy for Family Equality Council noted that Ryan’s comments,”…demonstrate that the best interests of children isn’t a partisan issue.”
There are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, approximately 104,000 of which are available for adoption.