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According to a new study from the Williams Institute, approximately 114,000 of the 700,000 same-sex couples living together in America have children: Most gay parents (68%) are raising biological children but more than one-fifth (21.4%) have adopted, exponentially more than the 3% of straight couples with adopted kids. Similarly, 2.9% of gay parents are raising foster children, compared to just 0.4% of straight couples.
Part of that, of course, is necessity. But many gay couples have an appreciation for chosen families. As a product of our coming out, many of us have come to realize that ‘blood’ isn’t what makes a family—it’s love,” says Dallas businessman Cooper Koch, who, with his husband, Todd, adopted son Mason and daughter Claire, nine years ago when the kids were just newborns.
“We never considered for a minute whether or not adoption was the right path for us,” says Koch. “To us, the fact that there were already children in need of homes overrode any desire for them to somehow share our DNA.”
Numerous studies have shown that the children of gay parents, whether biological or adopted, fare just as well if not better than their heterosexual counterparts. Health researcher Shoshana Goldberg, the report’s lead author, says that underscores the importance of laws protecting adoption and fostering by same-sex couples. “Without these policies, a qualified population of prospective parents may not have equal access to government-funded child welfare agencies and services.”
But Congress is now considering the Aderholt amendment, which would allow faith-based agencies to refuse to place children with gay parents. It would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of federal child-welfare services funding from states that enforce their anti-discrimination laws. The options for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system would be limited, as well.
Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) introduced the measure last month to the House Appropriations Committee.
“Several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services, to operate child welfare agencies,” said Aderholt, co-chair of the House Coalition on Adoption. “The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples.”
Aderholt added that his goal was to encourage state governments to welcome all experienced and licensed child welfare agencies, “so that children are placed in caring, loving homes where they can thrive—we need more support for these families and children in crisis, not less.”
The bill passed committee 29-23 and now goes before the full House for a vote. Nine states already have “license to discriminate” laws that let taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, including Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Aderholt’s home state of Alabama.
The Williams Institute report also indicated that about half of the same-sex couples in the U.S. who live together are married. That’s far less than the more than 90% of co-habitating straight couples that are married.