Adoption lawyers and agencies in New York are convinced that the state's new gay marriage law will lead to a spike in same-sex adoptions, to the consternation of some faith-based groups.
Beginning July 24, same-sex couples in New York can legally wed, and thousands of couples are expected to take advantage of the new legislation. Some, who want to raise children, may find greater support for their adoption cases by tying the knot.
New York already allows unmarried gay couples to adopt, but advocacy groups say because the new law may mean easier adoptions, there's likely to be a spike in same-sex wanting to adopt.
“I think they will feel more entitled to be a family under the new law,” Susan Watson, director of U.S. adoptions at the Spence-Chapin adoption agency in Manhattan told the Associated Press.
Carrie Gordon Earll, Spokesperson for family advocacy group CitizenLink, told The Christian Post Tuesday that there are a few concerns when it comes to same-sex adoptions.
“Children deserve the best chance at a mother and father in the home. Nature is trying to tell us something when it attempts to give every child a mom and a dad. Same-sex adoption intentionally denies them one of these important influences in child development,” Earll said.
The Marriage Equality Act offers some protection for religious and benevolent organizations that may want to refuse their services in relation to the law, such as hosting or officiating a gay wedding. In theory, church-affiliated adoption services are also afforded protection by this particular clause.
“The religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies in New York is threatened by the advance of same-sex marriage,” Earll said.
Calling the law “unclear,” Earll added, “The threat to adoption agencies is one of many religious freedom concerns that come into play when marriage is redefined as something other than a man and a woman. It’s dangerous territory if we want to protect religious freedom in this country.”
New York-based faith-based groups may not have a cause for concern yet, but on the federal level, things could change.
Members of the U.S. Congress have been pushing since 2009 a bill, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, that would end federal funding for faith-based adoption agencies that refuse to serve potential clients on the basis of their gender identity, marital status, or sexual orientation.
The bill, H.R. 1681, was reintroduced in May and is sponsored by Rep. Fortney Start, D-Calif. Among the bill's thirty-four supporters are Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. The bill cites, based on findings from Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, that “there are approximately 1,000,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples throughout the United States who are raising approximately 2,000,000 children.”
Utah and Mississippi are the only two states that strictly ban same-sex couples from adopting. Florida legislators overturned a prohibition against same-sex adoptions in 2010.