Change the World

ACLU Sues Trump Administration Over Plans to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Adoptive Families

Ahead of the Trump administration's planned rule to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the basis of religion, the ACLU announced a lawsuit

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

The Department of Health and Human Services recently hinted that it is preparing to issue a rule that would allow state-funded child welfare agencies to legally discriminate against same-sex couples. The rule would apply nationwide, depriving some of the over 440,000 children currently in the foster care system in the United States the opportunity to find loving homes with LGBTQ parents.

Fortunately, the ACLU quickly announced plans to sue, even before the policy has been officially released. A statement by Leslie Cooper, Deputy Director, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project said, "We're not waiting for the Trump administration to drop this rule, which would go against long-standing best practices supported by every major child welfare organization and former foster youth." The legal rights organization is also suing South Carolina, Cooper said, based on a similar state-based effort to allow discrimination against local LGBTQ parents on the basis of religious objections.

The Trump administration is seeking to roll back protections put in place for LGBTQ adoptive and foster care parents under the Obama administration that made it illegal for an child welfare agency receiving federal funding to refuse to work with same-sex couples.

Read the entire ACLU announcement here. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the story progresses.

Change the World

Tennessee Drops Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Bill Amid Growing Opposition

Amazon, the Tennessee Titans, and Taylor Swift were among those calling on the state to drop an anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

This past week the sponsor of a so-called "religious freedom" bill in the Republican-dominated Tennessee State Senate, which would have permitted state welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, requested the piece of legislation be pulled, effectively killing it for at least this year.

The bill, which had already been approved the the House, was widely expected to be passed and signed into law, so the sponsor's request surprised many. No explanation was given for the move, thought the Washington Post hints that increasing corporate pressure may have helped play a role. Both Amazon and the Tennessee Titans joined a growing list of companies speaking out against the discriminatory bill.

Taylor Swift, a native of the state who is increasingly wading into the political realm, also joined the fray by donating $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, an advocacy group fighting the bills. In a handwritten note to the group's Executive Director, Swift wrote: "I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders against the 'slate of hate' in our state legislature. I'm so grateful that they're giving all people a place to worship."

This good news follows Michigan's recent decision to rescind its own "religious freedom" law last month, though eight states currently still permit discrimination against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, and a bill is pending in Arkansas that would do the same.

Change the World

Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents Advances in Tennessee

Tennessee's anti-LGBTQ adoption bill still needs to be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor before becoming law.

Just this past week, we received the good news that Michigan will no longer permit state welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBQT parents in adoption proceedings, bringing the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" exemption down to 9.

However, anti-LGBTQ advocates in two states, Tennessee and Arkansas, are both attempting to pass similar statewide "religious freedom" bills. The effort in Tennessee just received a major boost after passing the state's House of Representatives on Monday. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, put out a statement saying, "If this bill becomes law, same-sex couples, people of various religious beliefs, and people with no religious beliefs now face the prospect of being turned away from adoption agencies that they helped fund because they are labeled morally or religiously objectionable, which leaves children and youth with longer wait times for permanent homes."

Will be sure to keep readers posted as the story unfolds in both Tennessee and Arkansas.


Change the World

Michigan Will No Longer Permit Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Michigan just rescinded its "religious freedom" law that allowed child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

According to LGBTQ Nation, Michigan will no longer allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples. The decision is thanks in part to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state's goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel, who is raising two kids with her wife, Alanna Maguire, is the first LGBTQ person to ever be elected statewide in Michigan.

As LGBTQ Nation reports, LGBTQ advocates widely applauded the decision:

"Our children need every family that is willing and able to provide them with a loving home," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, in a press release. "When agencies choose to accept taxpayer dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first."

"Attorney General Nessel makes clear Michigan's commitment to uphold existing nondiscrimination protections," said Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality Council, in a statement. "Furthermore, Nessel's statement demonstrates that she understands that while religious freedom is a core American value, religious beliefs should never be used as an excuse to harm others, or in this case, to reduce the number of loving homes available to children in the Michigan child welfare system."

Michigan's decision brings the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" laws that permit discrimination against LGBTQ would-be parents down to nine: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. Two other states, Arkansas and Tennessee, are attempting to pass "religious freedom" bills this year:

Read more here.

Gay Dad Life

New Dad Andy Cohen Uses Today Show Appearance to Talk About Complications Facing Gay Men on Path to Parenthood

New dad Andy Cohen talked about the challenges facing many gay men when trying to decide between adoption and surrogacy

Bravo's Andy Cohen, who recently became a new dad via surrogacy, has wasted no time drawing attention to many of the complicated choices facing gay men on their paths to parenthood. During a recent appearance on the Today Show, hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb asked him how he made made the decision between adoption and surrogacy.

Cohen noted, first, that he was lucky to have the means to do surrogacy, which costs an average of $120,000. But he also noted there would have been complications on his path, no matter which route he had chosen. Surrogacy, he noted, is not legal in all 50 states. "It's incredible to me, as I've now learned, that surrogacy isn't legal in all 50 states," he said. "It's illegal in New York and New Jersey, which is why I went to California."

Cohen then also drew attention to the difficulty many LGBTQ people face trying to adopt. Though he stated it was "illegal to adopt" for gay people in certain places, this is technically not true. (The Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling in 2015 paved the way for LGBTQ people to adopt, legally, in all 50 states, but some states have since passed laws that make it legal for state-licensed welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBQT people on the basis of religion).

Still, we applaud Cohen, who also recently opened up to People Magazine about his journey to fatherhood, for using his platform to speak out about challenges facing gay men who want to become dads.

Watch the whole segment here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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