Marriage Equality Advances; LGBT Adoption – Not So Much
NEW YORK - Two Supreme Court rulings have advanced the cause of marriage equality, and 13 states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. But what about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples and individuals who want to adopt children?
That too has opened up some, said Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Coalition, but much more needs to be done.
"If you call and say, 'I'm a gay man. My partner and I are interested in adopting,' there are still places that will say, 'No, thank you,' and hang up the phone," Kahn said.
Even in the most conservative states, she said, there are pathways to LGBT adoption, and work on expanding it continues in legislatures and courts. She said she senses that a corner has been turned and, as marriage equality spreads, adoption will correspondingly become easier.
HelpUsAdopt.org raises money and offers grants to help people with the enormous costs of adoption. A non-discriminatory policy has been a cornerstone of the organization's work, said co-founder Becky Fawcett, adding that it hasn't always been popular.
"We do have some donors who leave because of our stance on what a family is," Fawcett said, "and I have lost prospective board members for our stance - and I have received hate mail because of our stance."
About 15 percent to 20 percent of her group's grants have gone to LGBT adopters, she said, adding that she wishes more would apply. Kahn said she sees hesitancy, too.
"A lot of LGBT folks and same-sex couples who want to adopt are afraid to take that first step," Kahn said, "because there is a fear that 'We're going to be scrutinized differently than other folks,' or that, 'We're going to just be met with a no.' "
Kahn said she believes the momentum in the state-by-state move toward marriage equality can only make things better regarding adoption, and Fawcett agreed.
"I think with all the states coming on board with marriage equality I am hopeful that there will be more LGBT families adopting," Fawcett said. "We are here to help."