Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-03-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



MOMBIAN Fighting for kids against religious exemption laws
by Dana Rudolph

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

As a growing number of states allow child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective foster and adoptive parents and LGBTQ youth in care, a new campaign is fighting back—but it needs our help and our stories.

The Every Child Deserves a Family campaign ( ECDF ), launched last December, brings together dozens of LGBTQ, child welfare, faith-based, and civil rights organizations into a coalition chaired by Family Equality Council and PFLAG. It aims to promote the best interests of all children in the child welfare system by increasing their access to qualified caregivers, and to ensure LGBTQ youth in the system get safe, supportive care. In the current era, that means resisting those using religion to discriminate.

A growing threat

Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota and Virginia have for several years allowed child welfare agencies to cite their religious beliefs or moral convictions as reasons to reject otherwise qualified parents, including LGBTQ ones, single ones, and ones of different religions. In 2017, similar bills passed in Alabama, South Dakota and Texas, and ones are pending in Oklahoma and Georgia. Most also allow discrimination against LGBTQ children in care, which could mean placing them with a family that does not support their LGBTQ identity, or even wishes to subject them to widely discredited and damaging "conversion therapy."

Only three states, plus Washington, D.C. ,explicitly protect prospective foster and adoptive parents against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; five more protect based on sexual orientation alone.

The danger is at the federal level, too. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) on January 18 announced a new rule that will allow health care workers to refuse medical services if providing them violates their religious or moral beliefs. A new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within its Office for Civil Rights will enforce it. While the rule targets medical procedures, including abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide, Julie Kruse, federal policy advocate at Family Equality, said in an interview that HHS' language and actions seem to indicate they intend the division's scope to encompass all of HHS' activities, including human services such as adoption and foster care.

The need for homes

Federal data indicates more than 440,000 children are currently in foster care, 117,000 of whom are waiting for adoption. More than 20,000 children age out of the system each year without finding a permanent family, putting them more at risk for joblessness, homelessness, incarceration, and other problems.

LGBTQ parents "can be part of the solution," said Kruse, citing a study from UCLA's Williams Institute that indicated approximately 2 million LGB adults were interested in adopting.

And LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care, with studies also showing they are likely to have had more foster placements ( less permanency ), and more likely to have run away or been homeless, kicked out or trafficked.

A broad campaign

The new ECDF campaign grew out of earlier work by Family Equality and other organizations to support the bipartisan "Every Child Deserves a Family Act," first introduced in both houses of Congress in 2009 and reintroduced in every Congress since. The bill would withhold federal child welfare funds from states that discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents or LGBTQ youth in care, and allow redress in federal courts. With the growing number of state laws intended to withhold funds from those who don't allow discrimination, however, and an anti-LGBTQ federal administration, "We needed to have a combined federal and state campaign," explained Kruse.

Frank J. Bewkes, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress ( CAP ), one of the coalition's founding members, explained in an interview, "While CAP believes that the free exercise of religion is a fundamental American value, we're increasingly seeing that right being used as a weapon instead of a shield, which we think is a corruption of its purpose." Now, he said, "That weapon is harming some of our most vulnerable youths. WIth the ECDF campaign, we're mobilizing to combat these religious exemption bills for child placement agencies as they arise, trying to be more offensive in our strategy, or at the very least, more unified and organized in our defense."

Kruse hopes the new campaign will build on past successes. Family Equality partnered with other advocates to defeat discriminatory child welfare bills in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma, and defeated ones Alabama, Michigan, and Texas three times before they passed. They are now on the ground again in Oklahoma and Georgia, working with local groups and national organizations such as Lambda Legal, to combat new bills there.

The need for stories

To support the campaign, Family Equality and CAP have launched "Welcoming All Families," an initiative to collect stories of anti-LGBTQ discrimination ( and the benefits of inclusion ) in adoption and foster care. They want stories from LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents, current or former adoptees, and foster youth, child welfare providers, faith leaders, and allies that they can share with state and federal elected officials and use in media placements, videos, and reports.

Anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the child welfare system "is a topic that all too often lacks coverage," Bewkes explained. "We need to show how harmful these laws are. We also want to hear positive stories that we can hold up and say, 'That's a family; that's love,' because those are messages that any audience can understand."

Kruse said her goal is to get stories from all 435 Congressional districts across the country, "to show every representative and senator this is an issue that impacts their constituents." Visit to submit yours.

A plan for action

People should also visit to learn more and sign up for action alerts, Kruse advised.

Additionally, they can give feedback on the new HHS rule, which is open for public comments until March 27. These comments can "have a huge impact," she said. Visit and search for "Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care."

Kruse also encouraged people to ask their employers to oppose religious exemption legislation that would harm children in care. She noted the many companies that took action against broader anti-LGBTQ bills in North Carolina and Indiana because they wanted the states in which they're based to be welcoming to LGBTQ employees. Similarly, "Once they realize that their LGBTQ employees may want to form families, they'll realize this is an important business decision for them, too," she added. "I think it's simply a question of getting the education out there and building that support."

People should also ask their members of Congress to co-sponsor the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, she said. Even though the current Congress is unlikely to pass it, Kruse feels that if the Democrats regain a majority in the fall elections, the bill could make it into law.

Another way to help is through letters to the editor, "saying that these discriminatory bills are out there, that they are increasing in number, and that they harm kids," she suggested.

Kruse referenced a Public Religion Research Institute survey from last September that found 68 percent of Americans oppose discrimination against same-sex couples in federally funded adoption, including a majority of Republicans and evangelicals. "I think as soon as the general public realizes what's going on, we will win," she said. "Anybody who cares about kids should care about this issue."

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS The Seasoned Life 2018-03-14 - You might find this hard to believe, but it's true. Before I came to earth I had already picked out my parents ...

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN For theater critics, diversity, cultural connection imperative 2018-03-07 - A few years ago, at a town hall addressing the controversy that arose over reviews of Steppenwolf's production of This Is Modern Art, ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Billy Graham's ministry of LGBTQ intolerance 2018-03-07 - The Reverend William ( Billy ) Franklin Graham Jr. ( 1918-2018 ) has died at the age of 99. Too often, hagiographies are ...

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN My journey, my story 2018-02-28 - I honestly knew ever since I was able to speak that I was not like other little girls. However, I didn't understand why ...

Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL My daily last straw 2018-02-28 - What exactly is the last straw? I thought it was the presidential buffoon's goading of North Korea, but I was wrong. Our government ...

Gay News

LETTERS Don't boycott the boycott 2018-02-28 - Dear Editor: Bermuda became first in the world to legalize and then revoke same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples no longer have equal rights ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Amid the noise in D.C., dreamers' fate hangs in the balance 2018-02-14 - Forget about Trump's tweets and demand that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell pass a clean Dream Act. In September, Donald Trump said ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Abortion access is an LGBTQ issue, too 2018-02-07 - This year, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which affirmed that the Constitution protects ...

Gay News

Sue the T. rex goes nonbinary 2018-02-06 - The Field Museum announced its iconic T. rex, Sue will use preferred gender pronouns they/them/their in an effort to honor Sue's identity and ...

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN The Seasoned Life, Remaining Prepared 2018-01-31 - About 10 years ago some friends and I were sitting in the indoor space at Washington Park on Chicago's South Side, waiting for ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.