My colleagues Jerome Hunt and Jeff Krehely point out that, while the recent court ruling against Florida’s ban on gay adoption is a terrific step forward for equal rights, “several states still unfairly target gay men and lesbians who want to adopt or foster children“:
– 6 states expressly prohibit discrimination against gay and lesbian adoptions: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York.
– 3 states still restrict adoption by same-sex couples: Michigan, Mississippi, and Nebraska. The Michigan attorney general issued an opinion in 2004 that prevents same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions from adopting children in Michigan. Single gay and lesbian individuals, however, may petition to adopt. The director of Nebraska’s Department of Social Service issued a directive in 1995 that prohibits adoption by gay individuals and unmarried, cohabiting individuals. Mississippi, on the other hand, simply prohibits adoption by all same-sex couples.
– 3 states currently have laws or policies on their books that may effectively restrict adoption by gay men and women: North Dakota, Utah, and Arkansas. North Dakota allows social workers to make decisions about potential adoptive parents on the basis of their moral or religious convictions. Utah passed two provisions on adoptions in the last 10 years. The first, in 2000, prohibited unmarried cohabiting individuals from adopting. The second, in 2007, gave preference to married heterosexual couples over single adults in placement decisions. Finally, Arkansas prohibits unmarried, cohabitating individuals from adopting.
These policies come at an economic cost. The Florida ban kept 165 children in foster care, costing the state $2.5 million per year, the Williams Institute found and a nationwide ban on foster care by same-sex couples would cost somewhere between $87 million to $130 million a year. As Hunt and Krehely conclude, “During a time of state budget crunches it makes no sense to continue these discriminatory policies. Such laws and regulations are based on animus toward gay men and women, not on sound economic or social science. It’s time to erase them from the books.”