Civil rights & child welfare groups gear up to fight attempts to legalize bans on gay adoption

Derek de Koff

The nation’s civil rights organizations, religious groups, and child welfare organizations are going to war over the Republican proposal to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

More than 200 of them joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a letter to members of Congress yesterday opposing legislation that would authorize discrimination in the child welfare system.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to discriminate and no family should be told they are not qualified to serve as foster or adoptive parents because they are LGBTQ or the ‘wrong’ religion by a taxpayer-funded provider,” the groups write.

“Moreover, because the amendment conflicts with other federal laws including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in federally funded programs, it could open the door to discrimination against children and prospective families on the basis of race and national origin by taxpayer-funded agencies.”

The Aderholt amendment to the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill for FY 2019 would allow child welfare agencies receiving taxpayer funds to choose which families and children to serve, privileging the beliefs of providers over the best interests of children who are in state care.

If adopted, the Aderholt amendment would exacerbate an already dire crisis in the nation’s child welfare system.

The United States has nearly 440,000 children in foster care, more than 117,000 of whom are waiting to be adopted.

Each year, less than half of those are adopted into permanent placements, and tens of thousands age out of the foster care system before they can find an adoptive family.

Organizational Sign On Letter Opposing Aderholt Amendment

Not only would the Aderholt amendment severely decrease the already limited pool of eligible families, but it also would put the 46 states and the District of Columbia who enforce non-discrimination laws in jeopardy of losing 15 percent of their federal funding for child welfare services – amounting to a loss of more than $1 billion for the system.

Federal judges have already indicated these provisions would likely be found unconstitutional, should they be challenged in court.

“It is despicable that elected officials would place ideology over family,” said Ian Thompson, senior legislative representative at the ACLU. “Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up in a supportive, loving home.”

Thompson added, “The Aderholt amendment would harm some of the most vulnerable children in our country – those who are in state care do to abuse and neglect at home.”

The coalition letter distributed yesterday makes it clear that it’s “unacceptable to place the beliefs of providers over the best interests of children,” Thompson said.

SIGNATORIES INCLUDE:

National Organizations
African American Ministers In Action
American Association of University Women
American Atheists
American Conference of Cantors
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
American Unity Fund
Anti-Defamation League
Atticus Circle
AIDS United
American Civil Liberties Union
American Psychological Association
Athlete Ally
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Center for American Progress
Center for Children’s Law and Policy
Center for Children & Youth Justice
Center for Inquiry
Center for Public Interest Law
Center for Social Innovation
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Ceres Policy Research
Children’s Advocacy Institute
Children’s Defense Fund
Children’s Rights
Child Welfare League of America
COLAGE
DignityUSA
Disciples Justice Action Network
Equality Federation
Faith in Public Life
Family Values @ Work
Family Equality Council
FORGE, Inc.
Foster Care to Success
FosterClub
Freedom for All Americans
Global Justice Institute
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Harm Reduction Coalition
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Watch
Keshet
Impact Fund
Interfaith Alliance
Intersections International
Juvenile Law Center
Lambda Legal
Log Cabin Republicans
Men of Reform Judaism
Methodist Federation For Social Action
Metropolitan Community Churches
Movement Advancement Project
NAACP
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Adoption Center
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Council of Jewish Women
National Crittenton
National Education Association
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Health Law Program
National Juvenile Justice Network
National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Network of Abortion Funds
National Network for Youth
National Organization for Women
National Women’s Law Center
Nebraska Appleseed
New Ways Ministry
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Partnership For America’s Children
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Population Connection Action Fund
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Religious Institute
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
SAGE
SchoolHouse Connection
Secular Coalition for America
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)
SisterLove, Inc.
SparkAction
The Trevor Project
Transgender Law Center
True Colors Fund
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries
Unitarian Universalist Association
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Uri L’Tzedek
Voices for Progress
Witness to Mass Incarceration
Women of Reform Judaism
Youth Law Center

State and Local Organizations
Alabama
AIDS Alabama
AIDS Alabama South, LLC
Equality Alabama
Rainbow Mobile

Arizona
Children’s Action Alliance (Arizona)

California
Children’s Law Center of California
County Welfare Directors Association of California
The Diversity Center
Equality California
Family Builders by Adoption
Los Angeles LGBT Center
LYRIC
North County LGBTQ Resource Center
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Sacramento LGBT Community Center
San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center
The Spahr Center
The Source LGBT+ Center

Connecticut
Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families
Connecticut Voices for Children
Hispanic Federation – Connecticut
True Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services of Connecticut

Colorado
GLBT Community Center of Colorado
Inside Out Youth Services
One Colorado

Florida
Equality Florida
Hispanic Federation – Florida
Pridelines
Safe Schools South Florida

Georgia
Georgia Equality
Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
TRANScending Barriers
Trans(forming)

Illinois
Center on Halsted
Equality Illinois

Kansas
Children’s Alliance of Kansas
Kansas Appleseed

Kentucky
Louisville Youth Group Inc.

Louisiana
Louisiana Trans Advocates

Maine
EqualityMaine
Maine Children’s Alliance
Maine Women’s Lobby

Maryland
FreeState Justice
GLCCB – Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Baltimore, MD
Public Justice Center

Massachusetts
Child and Family Services, New Bedford
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
MassEquality

Michigan
Grand Rapids Pride Center
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan

Minnesota
Gender Justice

Missouri
OutFront Kalamazoo
PROMO

Montana
Kynexions
Youth Dynamics

Nebraska
Voices for Children in Nebraska

Nevada
Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
Purple W.I.N.G.S. Organization

New Jersey
New Jersey Parents Caucus, Inc
The Pride Center of New Jersey, Inc.

New Mexico
Equality New Mexico

New York
Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York
The Children’s Agenda
Dignity Buffalo
Fairness Alliance and Information Resources of New York, Inc.
Hamptons LGBT Center
LGBT Network (Long Island/Queens)
Long Island LGBT Community Center
Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth
Pride Center of the Capital Region
Queens LGBT Community Center
Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders – Long Island (SAGE-LI)

North Carolina
Equality North Carolina
Youth OUTright, WNC

Ohio
Equality Ohio
LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland

Pennsylvania
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
Equality Pennsylvania
Women’s Law Project

Rhode Island
Adoption Rhode Island

South Carolina
SC Equality
South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

South Dakota
Equality South Dakota

Tennessee
CCYS
OUTMemphis
Tennessee Equality Project
Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

Texas
DFW Foster Parent Association
Equality Texas
Resource Center
Texas Freedom Network

Washington
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Legal Voice

Wisconsin
Our Lives Magazine
Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

District of Columbia
Whitman-Walker Health

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