Next Thursday, March 11, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) will be hosting a panel discussion on the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act.” Panelists will include foster children who will discuss their experiences in the foster care system, parents who have been prevented from adopting their foster children because of state laws prohibiting gays, lesbians and bisexuals from adopting, and experts on foster care and LGBT family issues.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which Congressman Stark will be reintroducing prior to the briefing, takes into consideration the best interests of children in the foster care system by focusing on increasing their access to permanent homes through working with states to eliminate laws, policies, practices and procedures that categorically exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
The briefing will take place from 1:30 – 3:00 PM EST at the U.S. Capitol, Room H-137.
Panelists will include:
• Martin Gill, an adoptive parent, along with his partner of more than eight years has been raising two foster children of the state since 2004. They are currently involved in a lawsuit against Florida's law that automatically denies adoption by gays and lesbians.
• Leslie Cooper, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, is the lead attorney in the In re: Gill lawsuit.
• Jason Hoffmaster is an alumnus of the foster care system and an adoptive parent. He resides in Seattle, WA with his partner, and their four adopted sons. He also serves as a Board Member for Amara Parenting (a private foster care and adoption agency) in Seattle.
• Charlotte J. Patterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is one of the nation's foremost researchers on child development in the context of lesbian- and gay-parented families.
• Gary J. Gates, Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, is widely acknowledged as the nation's leading expert on the demography and geography of the gay and lesbian population.
• Uma Ahluwalia is Director of the Department of Health and Human Services for Montgomery County, Maryland. Previously, she served as Principal Deputy Director and Interim Director for the Child and Family Services Agency in the District of Columbia.
Any of our members in the DC area are encouraged to attend. For everyonen else, the briefing will be streamed live over the internet, and you can watch by clicking here.