Cali. congressman says 'Every Child Deserves a Family'

A bill recently introduced by a California congressman could trump a proposed adoption ban in Tennessee.

Congressman Pete Stark (D-California) has introduced H.R. 3827, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. The bill would prohibit entities that receive federal funding from denying adoptions solely based on the marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the prospective adoptive parents.

"When considering a potential placement for a child, the only criteria should be what is in the child’s best interest and whether the prospective parents can provide a safe and nurturing home," Stark said. "Bigotry should play no part in this decision."

If passed, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act would thwart Tennessee's SB 0078 which would prevent all unmarried and cohabitating couples from adopting a child.

Tennessee Equality Project Chair Christopher Sanders said the backlash is likely to take the form of Tenth Amendment angst.

"A few state legislatures like Tennessee's have recently passed Tenth Amendment resolutions complaining about what they perceive as unconstitutional federal interference in state matters," Sanders said.

He said adoption law has traditionally been a state prerogative, but the federal government heavily funds state programs.  In fact, the General Assembly's Fiscal Review Committee estimates that Tennessee's proposed ban on adoption by unmarried, cohabiting couples would cost the federal government $2,164,700.

"In my view, if the state is taking federal money for its programs, the federal government has the right to say to the states that they must administer the programs without bias," Sanders said.

According to Stark, H.R. 3827 would prohibit any entity that receives Federal child welfare funds from denying or delaying adoption or foster care placements based solely on the prospective parent’s marital status or sexual orientation. 

"States and child welfare agencies that fail to end discriminatory practices would face financial penalties," he said. "This is the same approach that put an end to race discrimination in adoption and foster care placements."

Sanders said the bill, like other legislation affecting the GLBT community, is in for a long road to passage, but is a good step.

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