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Congressional move could make adoption discrimination easier

Same-sex couples who want to adopt or foster children know that some private adoption agencies will turn them away. These organizations may have other restrictions as well. Some don't allow unmarried couples of any sexual orientation or anyone who's been divorced to adopt or foster a child. Some require that parents be Christian.

Amid calls that these agencies not be allowed to receive government funds, some states have enacted legislation prohibiting "discrimination" against them by the state in funding. Such proposed legislation failed here in Colorado.

However, in the U.S. Congress, the House Appropriations Committee recently passed an amendment that would allow child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with gay couples and other prospective parents without losing government funding if their decisions were based on "sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions." The amendment also requires the federal government to withhold 15 percent of its funding for states that deny funding to agencies based on placement practices they determine to be discriminatory.

The Republican representative from Alabama who is behind the amendment says he wants the adoption and foster system "to include all experienced and licensed child welfare agencies so that children are placed in caring, loving homes where they can thrive." However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the amendment "a sickening new low." She pledged that she and fellow Democrats "will fight this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort with all our strength."

One attorney for a children's rights advocacy group says that the shortage of adoptive and foster homes for children is "one of the most pervasive problems" that child welfare agencies have to deal with. She says that "the last thing we need is to discriminate against a very viable and important source for loving homes for kids."

The attorney also notes the danger of placing children who have not yet realized their own gender identity or sexual orientation with parents whose religious convictions tell them that being gay or transgender is wrong. She says that these children are "going to be sentenced to hell."

Same-sex couples seeking to adopt a child or become foster parents can benefit from the guidance of a Colorado family law attorney experienced in same-sex adoptions. These attorneys can help the process go more smoothly and work to protect their rights.

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