Alabama just made it much harder for LGBT parents to adopt children from certain adoption agencies.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed House Bill 24, titled the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, which “prohibit[s] the state from refusing to license or renew the license of a child placing agency on the basis that the provider declines to carry out an activity that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the agency.”
The bill applies to religious adoption agencies that do not receive federal funds.
“This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home,” Ivey said.
“I ultimately signed House Bill 24 because it ensures hundreds of children can continue to find ‘forever homes’ through religiously-affiliated adoption agencies. This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home,” Ivey added, according to AL.com.
According to the bill, “There is no compelling reason to require a child placing agency to violate its sincerely held religious beliefs in providing any service, since alternative access to the services is equally available.”
“The bill is not to discriminate against anyone,” said Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), who sponsored the bill. “Nowhere in the bill does it say anything like that or lead you to believe that.”
The Human Rights Campaign, however, described the bill as “deceptively titled” and said it “enshrines discrimination into Alabama law.”
“We are deeply disappointed that the legislature and the governor took on this unnecessary, discriminatory bill instead of focusing on how to improve the lives of all Alabamians, no matter who they are or whom they love,” said Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama state director, in a statement. “The intent of this law is clear: to discriminate, causing the most harm to children in Alabama’s child welfare system. It’s time our lawmakers from the legislature to the Governor’s Mansion stop using LGBTQ people as pawns to win cheap political points.”
HRC also pointed out that the bill would not only adversely impact LGBT potential parents but anyone who may lead a lifestyle the organization does not see fitting including “interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.”
A 2007 report from the Williams Institute estimated that 2 million gay and lesbian parents are interested in adoption. About half of gay men and two-fifths of lesbians want a child. Four percent of America’s adopted children are being raised by gay parents, and three percent of foster children live with gay parents.
While studies on LGBT parents are limited due to the limited number of LGBT parents, research has found that children raised in homes with same-sex parents are not negatively impacted as a result. The Williams Institute cites several nationally accredited organizations that have recognized “that sexual orientation should not be a determinative factor in assessing the ability of individuals to raise children through adoption, foster care, or second parent adoptions.”
Among these organizations are the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association and Child Welfare League of America.
The report also estimates that a statewide ban on gay and lesbian parents fostering children would cost Alabama roughly something between $336,960 and $507,520.
According to “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” a study by the American Association of Pediatrics:
“Many factors confer risk to children’s healthy development and adult outcomes, such as poverty, parental depression, parental substance abuse, divorce, and domestic violence, but the sexual orientation of their parents is not among them. A large body of scientific literature demonstrates that children and adolescents who grow up with gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.”
The US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) is another study, a comprehensive one that has been ongoing since the 1980s. The study follows a group of lesbian families and collects and publishes research results on an ongoing basis. A related publication, “Stigmatization and Promotive Factors in Relation to Psychological Health and Life Satisfaction of Adolescents in Planned Lesbian Families,” published in 2013, cites research suggesting that it is not being raised by lesbian mothers that could produce adverse psychological effects in adolescents but rather the negative stigmas associated with their mothers’ sexuality.
“The researchers found that adolescents who perceived more negative reactions on the part of others had lower self-esteem in five of seven self-esteem areas than adolescents who perceived fewer. These studies suggest that stigmatization based on homophobia can be a risk factor during psychological development (Masten, 2001).
“However, research comparing children in lesbian families with their counterparts in heterosexual families has found few differences in psychological adjustment (Anderssen, Amlie, & Yttery, 2002). This is noteworthy, since children and adolescents with lesbian mothers are likely to experience stigmatization based on their mothers’ sexual orientation, which in turn can influence their psychological well-being in a negative manner (Bos et al., 2008; Bos & van Balen; 2008; Gartrell et al., 2005; Gershon et al., 1999), whereas children and adolescents in the comparison groupstypically from traditional familiesare not subjected to such stigmatization. These findings suggest the possibility of mechanisms that promote resilience in children and adolescents with lesbian mothers who experience stigmatization (Van Gelderen, Gartrell, Bos, & Hermanns, 2009).”
The Williams Institute concludes that banning gay and lesbian parents from fostering and/or adopting children could have negative financial effects on the state as well as psychological trauma on the children.
“Foster and adoptive parents are already a limited resource for state child welfare agencies. In the short term, restricting the pool of potential parents could create financial and logistical challenges for states. In the longer term, states would miss the opportunity to expand pools of potential foster and adoptive parents (Mallon, 2006), which might allow them to save resources currently spent on recruiting and instead use those resources for other important activities.”