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Marriage Equality Advances; LGBT Adoption – Not So Much

PHOTO: As marriage equality gains momentum thanks to Supreme Court rulings, adoption by LGBT families and individuals lags behind. But advocates feel a corner has been turned. Courtesy HelpUsAdopt.org
PHOTO: As marriage equality gains momentum thanks to Supreme Court rulings, adoption by LGBT families and individuals lags behind. But advocates feel a corner has been turned. Courtesy HelpUsAdopt.org
July 22, 2013

NASHUA, N.H. - 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 area, too, has opened up somewhat, according to Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Coalition, but she said 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 them 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 has not always been popular.

"We do have some donors who left 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, Fawcett estimated, 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 believes the momentum in the state-by-state move toward marriage equality can only make things better regarding adoption, she said.

Fawcett agreed.

"With all the states coming on board with marriage equality," Fawcett said, "I am hopeful that there will be more LGBT families adopting. And we are here to help."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NH