Adoption agency laws unfair to LGBT citizens and others

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The colors of the rainbow are displayed at a Pride event. (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

The colors of the rainbow are displayed at a Pride event. (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

Back in 2015, I really felt like the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage was a conclusion. In a way, it was. After years of progress on the issue, it was suddenly legal everywhere. Full acceptance of same-sex couples, both socially and legally, seemed inevitable to me at the time. In hindsight I was incredibly naive. Brown v. Board of Education did not lead to instant desegregation or the end of racism and the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges is no different. In many cases, bigotry against LGBT citizens persists among a wide swath of the general population and assaults on the rights of these people continue to this day.

One threat is adoption legislation that sanctions discrimination against LGBT people, and challenges to their rights, being codified into law. This is taking place in several states, most recently Oklahoma. Their Republican-majority legislature and Republican governor passed a law allowing adoption agencies to not place children in certain homes if it “would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” In other words, if an adoption center doesn’t think that gay couples should be able to take care of kids because of religious beliefs, then they can prevent them from adopting someone. Oklahoma is one of eight states to currently have a law on the books like this.

To be clear, this exclusion doesn’t only apply to same-sex couples. Religious agencies could also likely justify preventing a couple with one or more transgender members from adopting, as well as single parents or those belonging to minority faiths. All they would have to do, according to the law, is prove that their religious beliefs are incompatible with allowing a child to be adopted by the family in question. In other words, 60 years ago this law could have been used to prevent mixed-race couples from adopting.

Efforts were also made to make this religious exemption legal nationwide. Republicans in the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a funding bill back in July allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against these couples. The funding bill ended up being passed in the U.S. Senate mid-September without this particular amendment, although it still must be approved by the House and President Trump.

Frankly, the adoption agencies that choose to discriminate and the lawmakers who protect them repulse me. If as an adoption agency you use anything other than whether a prospective parent will be able to provide love, a good home and adequate support for a child in need to judge them, then you need to rethink your moral code. I cannot fathom how you could tell a child without a family that they could have had a loving home but can’t because it was owned by homosexuals.

No matter how revolting I think these people are, I’m barely in the majority. According to an ABC poll only 47 percent think gay couples should be able to adopt, with 42 percent opposed. While this number is brought down because two-thirds of Republicans are in opposition, that’s still a sizable minority. This is evidence that we need to keep fighting unless we want LGBT Americans to slip back into being regarded as second-class citizens.

Connecticut and other progressive states should make efforts to enshrine protections for these people and guarantee that they will be treated fairly in all aspects of life. Eventually we may be able to secure these rights nationwide, but until then we must make it clear that we value LGBT citizens in our communities, in our state and in our country.


Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at jacob.kowalski@uconn.edu.

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