Text: H.R.1681 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (05/03/2011)


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[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1681 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1681

To prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based 
 on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any 
  prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual orientation or 
                 gender identity of the child involved.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                              May 3, 2011

Mr. Stark (for himself, Mr. Filner, Ms. Moore, Mr. Jackson of Illinois, 
    Ms. Chu, Ms. Berkley, Mr. Quigley, Ms. Tsongas, Mr. Waxman, Mr. 
 Serrano, Mr. Sablan, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. Ellison, Mrs. Davis 
of California, Mr. Olver, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Wu, Mr. Polis, Mr. 
Grijalva, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Rothman 
 of New Jersey, Ms. Richardson, Ms. Norton, Ms. Matsui, Mr. Moran, Ms. 
    Baldwin, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Nadler, Ms. DeLauro, Mr. McDermott, Mr. 
    McGovern, Ms. Pingree of Maine, and Mr. Weiner) introduced the 
 following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based 
 on the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any 
  prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual orientation or 
                 gender identity of the child involved.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Every Child Deserves a Family Act''.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
            (1) There is a shortage of qualified individuals willing to 
        adopt or foster a child in the child welfare system. As a 
        result, thousands of foster children lack a permanent and safe 
        home.
            (2) In order to open more homes to foster children, child 
        welfare agencies should work to eliminate sexual orientation, 
        gender identity, and marital status discrimination and bias in 
        adoption and foster care recruitment, selection, and placement 
        procedures.
            (3) Of the estimated 500,000 children in the United States 
        foster care system, over 129,000 cannot return to their 
        original families and are legally free for adoption.
                    (A) Fifty-one thousand children were adopted in 
                2007, while 25,000 youth ``aged out'' of the foster 
                care system.
                    (B) Research shows that youth who ``age out'' of 
                the foster care system are at a high risk for poverty, 
                homelessness, incarceration, and early parenthood.
                    (C) Increasing adoption rates, in addition to 
                establishing permanency and decreasing risk factors for 
                foster youth, can yield annual national cost savings 
                between $3,300,000,000 and $6,300,000,000.
            (4) Experts agree that in many States, lesbian, gay, 
        bisexual and transgender youth experience discrimination, 
        harassment, and violence in the foster care system because of 
        their sexual orientation or gender identity.
            (5) Approximately 60 percent of homeless lesbian, gay, 
        bisexual, and transgender youth were previously in foster care. 
        According to the Urban Justice Center, many of these young 
        people reported that living on the streets felt ``safer'' than 
        living in their group or foster home.
            (6) According to data taken from the 2000 Census, an 
        estimated 27 percent of same-sex couples have at least 1 child 
        under 18 years of age living in the home.
            (7) According to research by Gary Gates of the Williams 
        Institute, there are approximately 1,000,000 lesbian, gay, 
        bisexual, and transgender couples throughout the United States 
        who are raising approximately 2,000,000 children.
            (8) As of 2007, gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents were 
        raising 4 percent of all adopted children and fostering for 3 
        percent of all foster children. A report from the Williams 
        Institute found that an additional 2,000,000 gay, lesbian, and 
        bisexual individuals are interested in adoption.
            (9) According to the Urban Institute and the Williams 
        Institute, same-sex couples raising adopted children tend to be 
        older than, just as educated as, and have access to the same 
        economic resources as other adoptive parents. Studies confirm 
        that children with same-sex parents have the same advantages 
        and same expectations for health, social and psychological 
        adjustment, and development as children whose parents are 
        heterosexual.
            (10) An Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute study found 
        that one-third of child welfare agencies in the United States 
        currently reject gay, lesbian, and bisexual applicants.
                    (A) The practice of prohibiting applicants from 
                becoming foster parents or adopting children solely on 
                the basis of sexual orientation or marital status has 
                resulted in reducing the number of qualified adoptive 
                and foster parents overall and denying gay, lesbian, 
                bisexual, and unmarried relatives the opportunity to 
                become foster parents for their own kin, including 
                grandchildren, or to adopt their own kin, including 
                grandchildren, from foster care.
                    (B) According to the Williams Institute, over 
                14,000 children are currently in foster placements with 
                gay, lesbian, and bisexual adoptive and foster parents. 
                Another 65,000 children are being raised by their 
                adoptive parents. If other States followed the minority 
                of States and discriminated against qualified 
                individuals because of their sexual orientation or 
                marital status, foster care expenditures would increase 
                between $87,000,000 and $130,000,000 per year in order 
                to pay for additional institutional and group care, as 
                well as to recruit and train new foster and adoptive 
                parents.
            (11) Some States allow 1 member of a same-sex couple to 
        adopt, but do not recognize both members of the couple as the 
        child's legal parents. Recognition of joint adoption provides 
        children with the same rights and security that children of 
        heterosexual parents enjoy. These protections include access to 
        both parents' health benefits; survivor's, Social Security, and 
        child support entitlements; legal grounds for either parent to 
        provide consent for medical care, education, and other 
        important decisions; as well as the establishment of permanency 
        for both parents and child.
            (12) Professional organizations in the fields of medicine, 
        psychology, law, and child welfare have taken official 
        positions in support of the ability of qualified gay, lesbian, 
        bisexual, and unmarried couples to foster and adopt, as 
        supported by scientific research showing sexual orientation as 
        a nondeterminative factor in parental success.
            (13) Discrimination against potential foster or adoptive 
        parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or 
        marital status is not in the best interests of children in the 
        foster care system.
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are to decrease the length 
of time that children wait for permanency with a loving family and to 
promote the best interests of children in the child welfare system by 
preventing discrimination in adoption and foster care placements based 
on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

SEC. 3. EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY.

    (a) Activities.--
            (1) Prohibition.--An entity that receives Federal 
        assistance or contracts with an entity that receives Federal 
        assistance, and is involved in adoption or foster care 
        placements may not--
                    (A) deny to any person the opportunity to become an 
                adoptive or a foster parent on the basis of the sexual 
                orientation, gender identity, or marital status of the 
                person, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of 
                the child involved;
                    (B) delay or deny the placement of a child for 
                adoption or into foster care on the basis of the sexual 
                orientation, gender identity, or marital status of any 
                prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual 
                orientation or gender identity of the child; or
                    (C) require different or additional screenings, 
                processes, or procedures for adoptive or foster 
                placement decisions on the basis of the sexual 
                orientation, gender identity, or marital status of the 
                prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual 
                orientation or gender identity of the child involved.
            (2) Definition.--In this subsection, the term ``placement 
        decision'' means the decision to place, or to delay or deny the 
        placement of, a child in a foster care or an adoptive home, and 
        includes the decision of the agency or entity involved to seek 
        the termination of birth parent rights or otherwise make a 
        child legally available for adoptive placement.
    (b) Equitable Relief.--Any individual who is aggrieved by an action 
in violation of subsection (a) may bring an action seeking relief in a 
United States district court of appropriate jurisdiction.
    (c) Federal Guidance.--Not later than 6 months after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
shall publish guidance to concerned entities with respect to compliance 
with this section.
    (d) Technical Assistance.--In order to ensure compliance with, and 
ensure understanding of the legal, practice, and culture changes 
required by, this Act in making foster care and adoption placement 
decisions, the Secretary shall provide technical assistance to all 
entities covered by this Act, including--
            (1) identifying laws and regulations inconsistent with this 
        Act and providing guidance and training to ensure the laws and 
        regulations are brought into compliance within the prescribed 
        period of time;
            (2) identifying casework practices and procedures 
        inconsistent with this Act and providing guidance and training 
        to ensure the practices and procedures are brought into 
        compliance within the prescribed period of time;
            (3) providing guidance in expansion of recruitment efforts 
        to ensure consideration of all interested and qualified 
        prospective adoptive and foster parents regardless of the 
        sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of the 
        prospective parent;
            (4) comprehensive cultural competency training for covered 
        entities and prospective adoptive and foster parents; and
            (5) training judges and attorneys involved in foster care 
        and adoption cases on the findings and purposes of this Act.
    (e) Deadline for Compliance.--
            (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), an 
        entity that receives Federal assistance and is involved with 
        adoption or foster care placements shall comply with this 
        section not later than 6 months after publication of the 
        guidance referred to in subsection (c), or 1 year after the 
        date of the enactment of this Act, whichever occurs first.
            (2) Authority to extend deadline.--If a State demonstrates 
        to the satisfaction of the Secretary of Health and Human 
        Services that it is necessary to amend State statutory law in 
        order to change a particular practice that is inconsistent with 
        this section, the Secretary may extend the compliance date for 
        the State a reasonable number of days after the close of the 
        1st State legislative session beginning after the date the 
        guidance referred to in subsection (c) is published.
            (3) Authority to withhold funds.--If a State fails to 
        comply with this section, the Secretary may withhold payment to 
        the State of amounts otherwise payable to the State under part 
        B or E of title IV of the Social Security Act, to the extent 
        the Secretary deems the withholding necessary to induce the 
        State into compliance with this section.
    (f) GAO Study.--
            (1) In general.--Within 5 years after the date of the 
        enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United 
        States shall conduct a study to determine whether the States 
        have substantially complied with this Act, including 
        specifically whether the States have--
                    (A) eliminated policies, practices, or statutes 
                that deny to any otherwise qualified person the 
                opportunity to become an adoptive or foster parent on 
                the basis of the sexual orientation, gender identity, 
                or marital status of the person, or the sexual 
                orientation or gender identity of the child involved;
                    (B) removed all program, policy, or statutory 
                barriers that delay or deny the placement of a child 
                for adoption or into foster care on the basis of the 
                sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status 
                of any qualified, prospective adoptive or foster 
                parent, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of 
                the child; and
                    (C) eliminated all different or additional 
                screenings, processes, or procedures for adoptive or 
                foster placement decisions based on the sexual 
                orientation, gender identity, or marital status of the 
                prospective adoptive or foster parent, or the sexual 
                orientation or gender identity of the child involved.
            (2) Report to the congress.--Within 1 year after completing 
        the study required by paragraph (1), the Comptroller General 
        shall submit to the Congress a written report that contains the 
        results of the study.
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