The Hand That Blocks The Cradle.

Author:Hayes, Liz

Some Children Need Homes. Same-Sex Couples Are Happy To Provide Them. Why Are 'Pro-Family' Groups Standing In The Way?

Kris Williams is proof that LGBTQ people can be great foster and adoptive parents. In fact, they can be ideal parents because they have often lived through struggles that allow them to understand and relate to children who have experienced traumas and are in need of loving homes.

The Bethany, Okla., woman said her experiences as a provider of social services, a lesbian and a person of faith all shaped her ability to mother her 11-year-old son, Ozzy, whom she adopted about five years ago.

"Studies have shown that LGBTQ families raise children who are as healthy and happy as children from non-LGBT homes," said Williams during a March 12 press conference in Oklahoma.

"My child and I have [a] connection which requires great character and insight as a parent, as many children from adoption come from hard places," Williams said. "Raising a child from trauma is no easy feat. I have found that my experience as a member of the LGBTQ community is an asset in relating to my child's unique story."

But Oklahoma is one of the several states where legislators are working on bills to allow taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to cite religion as justification to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents like Williams.

Media Matters, a progressive watchdog group, reported in March that Alliance Defending Freedom, a large Religious Right legal group, has been working "to pass and defend legislation in at least five states that allows child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, among others, in adoption and foster care."

While these bills were primarily crafted to discriminate against LGBTQ families, the legislation also could allow agencies to turn away couples who are interfaith, interracial, have previously been divorced or have different religious beliefs from any given agency.

In Oklahoma, Sen. Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) in February proposed Senate Bill 1140, which would give state-funded child-placing agencies the right to refuse to work with foster and adoptive parents who "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." The bill would explicitly prevent the state from denying contracts or funding to agencies that discriminate in the name of religion.

Treat cited the same argument that has been used in other states to try to justify his proposal: that it would encourage more faith-based organizations to come forward to assist the state with child placement, which he said would increase the number of placements.

But these bills will have the exact opposite effect: Fewer families will be able to adopt or foster children, and the already burgeoning number of children waiting for safe, loving homes will continue to grow.

As of last fall, there were about 430,000 children in foster care in America, according to the Movement Advancement Program (MAP), a progressive think tank. MAP noted that same-sex couples are four times more likely than married heterosexual couples to adopt children and six times more...

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