TEP receives $10,000 donation from HRC

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) received a $10,000 donation from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Office during the HRC Nashville dinner on Saturday, Feb. 16. HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse presented the check to Chris Sanders, TEP Chair and President, for general operating expenses (see photo right).

“We know that members of TEP will have a great battle on their hands as they work toward fighting the adoption ban,” Rouse said. “We want to stand in solidarity with them.”

Tennessee House Bill HB3713 by John DeBerry (D-Memphis) and Tennessee Senate bill SB3910 by Paul Stanley (R-Memphis) would amend the Tennessee Code (Title 36 and 49) to “prohibit any individual who is cohabitating in a sexual relationship outside of marriage that is valid under the constitution and laws of this state from adopting a minor.”

If passed, the bill would prevent anyone that isn’t legally married from adopting, making it impossible for gay couples or individuals to adopt children. Current Tennessee Law does not require people petitioning for adoption to be married.

“Supporters of the bill are saying that it isn’t directed at our community,” Sanders said.  “But clearly the worst impact would be suffered by children and members of our (GLBT) community.”

Sanders said the donation will go toward lobbying and outreach, the organization’s largest expenditures. This is the second time HRC has contributed funds to TEP. They donated $7,000 in late 2006.

“There are a lot of children who need loving homes and our community includes parents who would love to give them those loving homes,” Sanders said.

"If the adoption ban is passed, it will immediately become law. Similar legislation is moving through the channels in Arkansas. If passed there, it would be the first legislation in history limiting who can adopt and could trigger similar laws to be passed in other states," Rouse said.

A report published by the nonpartisan Urban Institute in March 2007 says more than 16,000 adopted children and an estimated 14,100 foster children are living with a gay or lesbian parent. The study showed that a ban on gay and lesbian individuals being allowed to foster could displace 9,000 to 14,000 children if pursued nationally. It could cost from $87 to $130 million nationally and individual states could see costs of $100,000 to $27 million, the study showed.

Rouse, who is an adoptive parent, said he takes this legislation personally.

“The government should not regulate who can have children,” Rouse said. “That should be left up to child care advocates.”

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