- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2011

For the first time in Senate history, a bill has been introduced to encourage agencies not to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples seeking to adopt.

“As more and more LGBT couples are getting married and starting families, we have a great opportunity to place children without a family into happy homes,” said Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, New York Democrat and lead sponsor of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, Monday at the Huffington Post.

The past year has seen many moves toward gay equality, and “the momentum is there to build on our progress,” she said, noting the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” passage of gay marriage in New York and the “unprecedented assault” on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the U.S. Senate and in the courts.

Ms. Gillibrand’s bill would deny federal funding to any entity that considers sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status when contemplating prospective foster or adoptive families. A companion bill already has been introduced in the House by Rep. Fortney Pete Stark, California Democrat.

Congress spends more than $8 billion a year on child welfare, and many more children could be adopted if agencies accepted gay couples, the senator said. Instead, 31 states practice some form of discrimination against such couples.

In recent years, many religious organizations have protested when governments have begun insisting that unmarried couples be considered as foster and adoptive parents. Notably, Catholic agencies have withdrawn from child-placement services.

Still, many such adoptions occur. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute recently issued a report that said about 65,000 adopted children and 14,000 foster children live in homes headed by non-heterosexuals.

Part of the reason child-welfare and health associations support gay adoption is because advocates say research indicates that children raised in gay homes do as well as, or even better than, children raised by heterosexual couples.

However, a new in-depth review of 59 studies on gay parenting has concluded that such “strong assertions” about gay parenting are “not empirically warranted.”

Most of the 59 gay-parenting studies involve children of high-income white lesbian mothers or tended to use very small samples; studied children but not teens; and either had no comparison families or compared lesbian-led homes with single-mother-led homes, wrote Louisiana State University family science professor Loren Marks.

These and other weaknesses cannot support broad statements that there are “no significant differences” between being raised in same-sex versus mother-father homes, wrote Mr. Marks, whose analysis was included in the Oct. 15 briefs filed by the House of Representatives in its defense of DOMA in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management.