Democrats fight Republican bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples

A group of Senate Democrats is trying to stop a Republican bill currently making its way through Congress that would allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex prospective parents on faith-based grounds.

The measure, known as the Aderholt Amendment, was attached to a budget measure currently under discussion in the House of Representatives. A letter signed by 40 senators on Wednesday addressed the Senate Appropriations Committee objects to the language of the bill, asking for it to be excluded from the Senate version of the bill, on the grounds that it would sanction “taxpayer-funded discrimination.”

“Such an exemption would elevate the religious beliefs of taxpayer-funded foster care providers over the best interests of children and would be a serious threat to the safety and protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth in foster care in particular,” the letter read, noting that LGBT+ youth is disproportionately represented in the foster care system due to the discrimination many face at home.

A daughter hugs her two dads in Los Angeles, California, on March 4, 2009 (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty)

Already 10 states have approved legislation that effectively allows faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT+ couples, but the Aderholt amendmentl would prohibit states from stopping funds to agencies rejecting same-sex prospective parents. Should states still try to punish these agencies, they’d lose up to 15 percent of federal funding for their child welfare services.

The letter opposing the measure was sent on the day Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a new report on the hurdles same-sex couples have faced in achieving their dream to become parents.

“It was really hard. It hurt… We like to think we’ll be good moms, but it really hurt that they wouldn’t even get to know who we were. It’s this little piece—because we’re two women, they said no,” Dana Dumont, who tried to adopt a child with her partner in 2016 but was refused by an agency in Michigan, told the non-governmental organisation.

Like the Democratic senators’ letter, HRW too noted the high number of children across the country who won’t have access to a loving and caring home by the time they become 18 and age out of the foster care system, instantly becoming homeless—more than 23,000 every years, according to a 2017 report by the National Foster Youth Institute.

A child rallies for the Same Sex Marriage bill at the California Supreme Court building September 8, 2005 in San Francisco, California (David Paul Morris/Getty)

“Congress should make it easier, not harder, for children to find loving, qualified families ready to take them in,” said Ryan Thoreson, one of HRW LGBT+ rights researcher.