Delinieation and Overview of the Policy Under Analysis
Social attitudes about family life have undergone profound changes in recent decades. While public acceptance of homosexuality remains a deeply decisive issue, adoption by gays and lesbians has become increasingly acceptable, with 46% of the national population favoring gay adoption. (Pew Research Center, 2006) In New York State, statutes developed to permit gays to adopt are among the most permissive in the nation. New York Adoption Code 18 NYCRR 421.16 (h)(2) (2004) states that "applicants shall not be rejected solely on the basis of homosexuality", which expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation when determining who may adopt. According to The Children's Defense Fund, 14,840 children in New York were awaiting adoption from foster care in 2006. Across the United States, there were 126,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in 2006. (Children's Defense Fund) Laws that ban gay people from adopting, or those that specifically don't prohibit discrimination in adopting and fostering are of critical importance to the LGBT community because labeling a group of people as unfit to parent can be construed as an attack on their humanity. Laws protecting homosexuals in the process of adoption affect not only members of the LGBT community, but also the many children awaiting adoption. Children who grow up without families are much less likely to grow into responsible adults.(Casey Family Services, 2004) Those who age out of foster care are at high risk for dropping out of school, being unemployed, experiencing homelessness, and getting involved with drugs and criminal activity. In the late 1970's and 1980's, it was recognized that children were lingering in the foster care system, being placed in a series of homes, and never part of a long term plan, other than to remain in care. The idea of permanency planning is based on the belieft that the preferred plan for a child who cannot return home is adoption, and that every child adoptable. (Leighninger, 2004) Permanency planning became a part of national social welfare policy with the passage of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. (Leighninger, 2004) In an attempt to reduce the number of children in foster care, new permanency guidelines in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 have led to an increased number of children in the child welfare system who need homes, while there is a growing number of non-traditional families who want to adopt. In addition to the terrible human costs of denying children access to qualified adoptive parents, excluding gays and lesbians from adopting would impose significant economic costs on a state, considering that foster care costs money. Prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in an application to adopt came only a year after New York state enacted a Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act, which outlawed antigay discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodation, educations and credit throughout the sate. (Office of the NYS Attorney General, 2007)
Homosexuality has existed since humans have been documenting history. However, only since recent decades have laws been instituted to protect gays from discrimination in some instances. Historically, gays have been discriminated against for centuries, through denial of equal treatment in courts, housing, and employment, and by being targets for violence and harassment. (Human Rights Campaign, 2006) The federal government denies employment in the CIA, and the Army to gays who are open about their homosexuality. Homosexuality was also labeled a felony crime by imposed laws against sodomy, which weren't ruled unconstitutional until 2003. (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003) Homosexuals are often compared with other minority groups and many were inspired by the African American Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr.. His ideas...
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