Well this is one way to force anti-gay states — we’re talking to you, Florida — into adopting adoption equality legislation: Have the federal government punish any member of the union with discriminatory laws on their books. That’s what California’s Dmeocratic U.S. Rep. Pete Stark wants to do with the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which he introduced last week. Why is this bill so ballsy? (And, bigger question: Why won’t Gay Inc. get behind it?)
Because it would place restrictions on federal funds — economic sanctions, y’all! — on any state that uses marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity to discriminate in foster or adoption programs. Among those states that would be affected? Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi.
So why is Rep. Stark, a father of three young kids, so adamant about the law? Not because he’s a gay rights champion; he just doesn’t want to see 25,000 kids “age out” of these programs each year and have nowhere to go when they turn 18.
So what if Florida’s Gov. Charlie Crist can’t kill those anti-gay adoption bills? Blade:
The legislation, Stark said, also would restrict funds for states where restrictions are put in place by agencies, individual social workers or judges, or where restrictions are part of the common law of the state.
For states that don’t comply with the law, federal officials could withhold from the states funds provided to them for child welfare services. The bill also calls for a Government Accountability Office study within five years to examine how states are complying with the new rules.
The bill is modeled after the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, a law Stark helped shepherd through Congress in 1994 that prohibits racial discrimination in foster care and adoption placements.
So what’s the bad news? Stark has no co-sponsors for the bill yet, and little visible support. Sure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi likes the idea, but we know how meaningless her support can be. That said, Stark says there’s a “pretty good” chance the bill will pass this Congressional season.
And as for your upstanding Gay Inc. organizations? Surely they’ll want to get this legislation passed, right?
Sort of. While the Human Rights Campaign supports the bill — spokesman Trevor Thomas says HRC supports “all efforts to remove artificial barriers to finding permanent families for children and youth” — the org only plans to lobby for the bill if it “gains traction in Congress,” according to the Blade.
So … we should wait for our elected officials to get behind it before we do? Sorry, but when did our upstanding civil rights organizations wait for politicians to do our bidding before mounting an effort to convince them they should?