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U.S. House Committee Passes Amendment that Allows Discrimination Against LGBTQ People in Adoption and Foster Care

There is a long history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people both adopting children, but also being discriminated against in the adoption process. Even though Rhode Island has a state law that prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, they may suffer consequences if this law passes. If you are looking to adopt or foster a child in Rhode Island, you should contact a skilled Rhode Island family law attorney to help you with the process whether you are LGBTQ or not.

Proposed Amendment

This proposed amendment is part of a funding bill that the U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed. The amendment would withhold federal funding from states that “discriminate” against child welfare agencies that disallow LGBTQ foster care or adoption due to “sincerely held religious beliefs.” That means that if this bill passes, all states – including Rhode Island – will need to license religious child welfare agencies, even if they choose to deny LGBT individuals and couples the ability to work with their agencies.

If the amendment passes both houses, it could have a serious impact on Rhode Island’s federal funding. Specifically, the law would require the federal government to withhold 15% of funds from states that refuse to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people who want to parent. As Rhode Island’s state law disallows this kind of discrimination, the state would have an important decision to make if this appropriations amendment passes.

This law would of course not require agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents. Instead, it requires the state to allow faith-based agencies to discriminate if they choose to. Proponents of this law argue that the agencies should have the religious freedom to discriminate against communities they do not approve of. However, some experts are worried that this law will decrease the number of potential adoptive and foster parents, as LGBTQ people may be discouraged after being turned away from an adoption agency. After that experience, they may change their minds about adopting or fostering, leaving more children without safe homes. They are also worried about potential LGBTQ children ending up in unsupportive homes.

Current Adoption Law

As noted above, currently Rhode Island prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in the adoption and foster care process. However, potential foster and adoptive parents do need to meet certain requirements. The adoption process in Rhode Island requires home studies, although this can be waived for good cause. Potential adoptive and foster parents must show that they can emotionally, physically, and financially care for a child. If the child is 14 or older, the child must also give their consent to the adoption. The court will use a “best interest of the child” standard to decide whether the adoption should go through.

Contact an Experienced Rhode Island Family Law Attorney Today

All children deserve a safe and loving home. If you are looking to adopt, whether this law is in place are not, there are many steps to the adoption process. The knowledgeable Rhode Island family law attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, can help you to navigate the process no matter your sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious beliefs. Call (401) 300-4055 or use the form on this web site to contact us today for a free consultation!

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