Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Policy Matters 1/25/12

Front Page Headlines

Gay Bishop Documentary Takes Center Stage at Sundance: “Love Free or Die,” a documentary about the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson, is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The film follows Robinson as the Church wrestles with equality for gays and lesbians, including his trip to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2009 where leaders voted to allow gay men and women to be bishops. Bishop Robinson hopes that his story will inspire and comfort gay boys and girls. [Washington Post]

Best Companies List Hits Gay Rights Milestone: For the first time, each of the 100 companies on Fortune’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. Nearly nine out of ten of the companies also offer benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Both of these indicators of workplace equality have become more prevalent in companies over the past decade. [CNN]

ABC Kills ‘Work It’: ABC’s new show, “Work It,” was cancelled after only two episodes. The comedy, which followed two men who dress as women in order to get jobs in a slow economy, was criticized by LGBT equality organizations because it gave “license [to audiences to laugh at] transgender women.” The show had poor reception with audiences and TV critics from the beginning. [New York Times]

Policy Watch

Washington State Has Enough Votes to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage: During the first public hearing on legalizing same-sex marriage, a Democratic state senator announced her support for the legislation, making her the last vote needed to get marriage equality passed. The bill now has enough support to pass in the state House and Senate, and Gov. Chris Gregoire has said that she would sign the bill into law. It is expected that after the bill legalizing same-sex marriage passes, opponents will challenge it with a referendum, and Washington voters will ultimately decide its fate. [New York Times]

Anti-Bullying Bill Moves Forward: The Education Committee of Maine’s state legislature unanimously approved a bill that would provide enumerated protections for LGBT students who experience bullying or harassment. The bill includes a clear definition of bullying, prevention strategies for teachers, as well as discipline strategies. Now that it has been approved by the committee, the bill will be considered by the state House and Senate. [Bangor Daily News]

O'Malley Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Bill: Gov. Martin O’Malley has submitted a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. A bill for marriage equality was introduced in last year’s General Assembly, but the legislation was halted because it would not have garnered enough votes to pass in the House. Gov. O’Malley says that his bill would provide equal rights for gays, while protecting the rights of religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. [Baltimore Sun]

Question from the Field

Dear Policy Matters,

A friend of mine works for an adoption agency; when I asked recently if her organization has a lot of clients who are LGBT, she embarrassedly admitted that they do not allow LGBT couples to adopt. I was shocked to learn that this kind of discrimination is completely legal in my state. How can my chapter advocate for LGBT couples who want to adopt?

Thanks for your guidance.

Steven

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Dear Steven,

Thank you for writing to Policy Matters! Sadly, as you discovered, there is no federal law that outlaws discrimination against prospective foster or adoptive parents because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. There are some states, like Wisconsin and Michigan, that even have laws that explicitly prohibit LGBT people from fostering or adopting children. In states where adoption and foster care are legal for LGBT people, many couples experience discrimination. This discrimination can take place at the level of an individual social worker who falsely believes that LGBT people will not make good parents, or at the level of an entire adoption organization that has a policy (explicit or otherwise) that excludes LGBT people from being prospective parents because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Given that there is more than 30 years of rigorous social science research proving that LGBT parents raise children who are just as happy, healthy, and well-adjusted as children raised by straight parents, the absence of a national law protecting prospective LGBT parents from discrimination is appalling. LGBT people and their families, however, are not the only groups that are negatively impacted by this discrimination. There are 107,000 foster children in the United States alone waiting to be adopted. Many of these children, around 27,000, will age out of the foster care system without ever being placed in permanent homes. It is truly a tragedy that LGBT individuals are systematically sent to the back of the line to adopt, and in some cases outright forbidden from adopting, when there are so many children in need of loving families.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 1681 / S. 1770) is a landmark piece of legislation that would outlaw discrimination against prospective adoptive or foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. If your chapter is interested in advocating for LGBT people who want to adopt, you can lobby your members of Congress on ECDF. Have everyone in your chapter call the offices of their Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. Be sure to have everyone share personal stories that highlight the need for these protections. Also, be sure to point out that by ending discrimination against LGBT people who want to adopt, many new safe and loving homes will be opened to children in foster care. Every child deserves a loving home.

Thank you for moving equality forward,

Policy Matters

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P.S. Have you downloaded our new edition of Bringing the Message Home yet? Get your 2011 version of the how-to guide to PFLAG advocacy now and share it with your chapter. Visit PFLAG nationals' website for more information now!

If you would like to have a policy-related question featured in our next edition, please e-mail rperry@pflag.org with your question no later than Friday, February 10th, 2012.

3 comments:

bea so said...

I have no problems with Gay couples adapting children. They can be as good foster parents as straight couples. As a member of foster care agencies bristol, I support all foster parents.

Mark Jones said...

Sometimes, gay couples stand better than real parents because they are the parents who wanted children badly. Judging aside, a lot of biological parents still have issues about the child support modification in florida,and if they may know, it has a big impact on the child's performance and development in the society.

Robert Robillard said...

It's always good to be updated on the latest news especially if it involves crime-related issues. This is to also inform the public that there have been injustices happening and that we, should put an end and be more vigilant as these issues are continuously coming up to, somehow, stop or refrain this from happening again.