Two years ago, gay marriage was legalized in the United States. It was a historic day, celebrated with pride and love by people all across the country. LGBTQ folks would now be able to marry in a court of law and experience all the benefits and rights that marriage entails.
And before LGBTQ folks could get married, they could still legally become parents.
In 1978 New York became the first state to say it wouldn’t reject adoption applicants solely because of “homosexuality.” In 1997 New Jersey became the first state to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly.
In 2015, the same year gay marriage became legal, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act was introduced to Congress but didn’t pass the Senate. If passed, the bill would have prohibited any child welfare agency that receives federal funding from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive parent/s on the basis of “sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status,” according to the Human Rights Campaign. The act would also prevent discrimination against any foster youth because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
If only this bill had managed to make it through Congress.
Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott passed House Bill 3859 which allows adoption and foster care agencies to deny services or turn away prospective parents based on the agencies’ “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Many LGBTQ advocates, as well as Texas Democrats, have claimed the bill discriminates against LGBTQ folks hoping to adopt or become foster parents.
Many opponents of this bill claim that it does not have the best interests of the children at heart. There is a large number of children in this country who need a home, and whether or not that home consists of two gay parents should not matter.
Currey Cook, director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, told Jezebel’s politics podcast Big Time Dicks, that the law will also affect children in foster care: HB 3859 allows agencies to either refuse care to children or refuse to recognize their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In this current political climate, it is imperative that we, as citizens, remain involved in the lawmaking process to prevent unjust laws from being passed. We need to continue to call our senators and representatives and voice our opinions. And we must continue to stand up and fight for what we believe in and what we think is right: like the idea that who you love shouldn’t make a difference in whether or not you get to be a parent.