Every Child Deserves a Family

In the past year, we have made so much progress toward LGBT equality. My home state of New York passed marriage equality, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" has ended, and DOMA is under unprecedented assault in the U.S. Senate and in the courts. The momentum is there to build on our progress, which is why I'm proud to introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in the U.S. Senate today.

As more and more LGBT couples are getting married and starting families, we have a great opportunity to place children without a family into happy homes, either by adoption or foster care. But unfortunately, discrimination against both adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation or gender identity is still pervasive in this country. Currently, five states prohibit same-sex couples from adopting, and there are six states that ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner's children. In all, 31 states practice some form of discrimination against LGBT families.

Which is why we desperately need this legislation.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would prohibit any adoption or foster care agency that receives federal money from discriminating against potential adoptive or foster parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children, ensuring that they are raised in loving families.

I'm proud that my home state of New York has led on this, allowing LGBT individuals -- and now married couples -- to adopt and be foster parents. Mary Keane of Yonkers is a perfect example. At age 50, Mary, a lesbian, decided she wanted to be a mom, so she volunteered to be a foster parent. Now 63, Mary is the proud parent of 12 foster kids, five of whom she has since adopted. Thanks to New York's open foster care laws, Mary was able to give these kids the happy, stable home they'd never known.

The fact is that LGBT parents are just as able to provide a loving and stable home for children as straight parents are. It's my hope that as more and more LGBT Americans are able to marry, so, too, will their families grow to include some of the over 100,000 children still waiting to be adopted or welcomed into foster homes. And as we commemorate National Adoption Month throughout November, it's my hope that the Every Child Deserves a Family Act will get a fair hearing in Congress. Not only will this bill allow thousands of children to find loving families, but it will help move us further toward equality for all LGBT Americans.