Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would restrict federal child welfare funding from any state that discriminates against LGBT people attempting to adopt.
Stark said in an interview that he introduced the legislation, H.R. 3827, in part because thousands of children each year “age out” of the child welfare system without finding homes. “We got 25,000 kids a year maturing out of the welfare system without permanent foster care or adoptive care, and the prospects of those children having a successful adult life are diminished greatly,” he said. “These are kids who end up in the criminal justice system, or end up homeless.”
States with explicit restrictions on adoption that the pending legislation would affect are Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi. Florida, for example, has a statute specifically prohibiting gays from adopting, and in Arkansas, voters last year approved Act 1, which prevents unmarried co-habitating couples, including same-sex partners, from adopting children. The legislation, Stark said, also would restrict funds for states where restrictions are put in place by agencies, individual social workers or judges, or where restrictions are part of the common law of the state. For states that don’t comply with the law, federal officials could withhold from the states funds provided to them for child welfare services. The bill also calls for a Government Accountability Office study within five years to examine how states are complying with the new rules.
Stark rates the chances of his bill passing as “pretty good,” but no hearing is yet planned. A spokesman for the HRC said they’ll get behind the bill if it gains traction in Congress.