Family Equality Council and PFLAG National, the nation's leading advocates for LGBT families and their allies , today praised Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) for announcing her plans to introduce the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act" (ECDF) in support of the 408,000 children in America's foster care system.
The proposed legislation would dramatically increase the access foster children have to permanent and stable homes by eliminating state laws, policies and practices that exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
By introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, Senator Gillibrand advances one of the major recommendations of the All Children Matter report which was released this week. The groundbreaking report provided a vivid picture of how children are often the unintended victims of antiquated and discriminatory laws that target the nation's 1 million LGBT parents.
"We commend Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in introducing legislation that would open up more homes to the 115,000 children waiting for their forever families," said Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National. "As a family organization that has spent the past 40 years supporting and advocating for parents, families and children all over the country, we know from our vast experience that it is in the best interest of every child, - and, in fact, the right of every child - to have the loving care and support of a family."
"There is a child welfare crisis in our country," said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of Family Equality Council. "More than one-third of the children in foster care could be placed with a family right now, but state laws are eliminating loving and qualified parents simply because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Our country cannot continue to deny these children forever families because of the flawed patchwork of state laws."
"New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country," Senator Gillibrand said. "By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York City has increased its foster parent pool by nearly 26,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families."
Senator Gillibrand's announcement comes on the eve of National Adoption Month and follows the introduction of a companion bill (H.R. 1681) in the House by Representatives by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) during National Foster Care Awareness Month last May. The House bill has 76 bi-partisan co-sponsors and a similar effort is now underway to add co-sponsors in the Senate.
Linda Spears, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs for the Child Welfare League of America joined those praising Gillibrand.
"Far too many children in foster care have little hope for a permanent family and end up being parented by the government," said Spears. "We must support all qualified adults who are interested in providing a nurturing, adoptive home-regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. Having a real life, caring parent is incredibly important for ensuring a child's success. Senator Gillibrand's bill represents progress for these children whose goal is to simply be loved."
For more information go to www.familyequality.org/EveryChild or www.pflag.org/ecdf2011
The All Children Matter report can be found at www.children-matter.org