Text: H.R.2028 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

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Introduced in House (05/16/2013)


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[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 2028 Introduced in House (IH)]

113th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2028

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 16, 2013

Mr. Lewis (for himself, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Doggett, Mr. Rangel, Mr. 
 McDermott, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Ms. Bass, Mrs. Capps, Mr. 
Capuano, Mr. Cardenas, Mrs. Christensen, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Clarke, Mr. 
   Connolly, Mr. Conyers, Mrs. Davis of California, Ms. DeGette, Mr. 
    Deutch, Ms. Edwards, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Hastings of 
 Florida, Mr. Honda, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mr. Kennedy, 
Ms. Kuster, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Lowenthal, Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New 
   York, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Mr. George Miller of 
   California, Ms. Moore, Mr. Nadler, Ms. Norton, Mr. O'Rourke, Ms. 
 Pelosi, Ms. Pingree of Maine, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Polis, Mr. Quigley, Ms. 
Roybal-Allard, Ms. Linda T. Sanchez of California, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. 
    Schiff, Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Serrano, Ms. Speier, Mr. Swalwell of 
  California, Mr. Takano, Ms. Tsongas, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, and Ms. 
Wilson of Florida) 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.--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 400,000 children in the United States 
        foster care system, more than 104,000 cannot return to their 
        original families and are legally free for adoption.
                    (A) 50,516 children were adopted in 2011, while 
                26,286 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 the Williams Institute, an estimated 19 
        percent of same-sex couple households include children under 18 
        years of age.
            (7) The Williams Institute estimates that 3,000,000 
        lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have had a child 
        and as many as 6,000,000 American adults and children have a 
        lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parent. Among adults 
        under 50 years of age living alone or with a spouse or partner, 
        48 percent of lesbian, bisexual, or transgender women are 
        raising a child under 18 years of age, and 20 percent of gay, 
        bisexual, or transgender men are doing so.
            (8) As of 2013, same-sex couples are raising 1.4 percent of 
        adopted children with 2 parents and are fostering 1.7 percent 
        of foster children living with 2 parents. A 2007 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 Williams Institute/Urban 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 \1/3\ of child welfare agencies in the United States 
        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, more than 
                3,400 children are currently in foster placements with 
                same-sex couples. Another 22,000 children are being 
                raised by same-sex adoptive couples. 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 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 a child, 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 of placement decision.--In this section, 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 
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 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 and any entities in the State that are involved with 
        adoption or foster care placements 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 (42 U.S.C. 621 et 
        seq., 670 et seq.), to the extent the Secretary deems the 
        withholding necessary to induce the State into compliance with 
        this section.
    (f) GAO Study.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 5 years after the date of 
        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.--Not later than 1 year after 
        completing the study required by paragraph (1), the Comptroller 
        General shall submit to Congress a written report that contains 
        the results of the study.
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