March 18, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Gillibrand to introduce adoption anti-discrimination bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said she plans to introduce legislation that would bar adoption discrimination against LGBT people, although she’s uncertain about when the bill will be made final.

Asked by the Washington Blade whether she’d introduce the legislation, Gillibrand replied, “Yes.”

However, she didn’t offer any other details about the planned measure. Pressed to give an estimate on when she’d make the legislation public, the senator said, “We will let you know when we’re ready.”

A Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Senate supporters of the legislation are developing a strategy for success over the coming months, but for time being Gillibrand is focused on building momentum for bills introduced this week that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

In the previous Congress, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) introduced in the House legislation known as the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which aimed to bar adoption discrimination against LGBT families. As it was previously written, the bill would restrict federal funds for states if they have laws or practices that discriminate in adoption on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brian Cook, a Stark spokesperson, said the House lawmaker is aiming to reintroduce the bill this spring in concert with the Senate companion.

Among the states that prohibit same-sex couples from adopting is Arkansas. In 2008, Arkansas voters approved Act 1, which prevents all cohabitating unmarried couples from adopting children. Florida has a statute that explicitly bars gays from adopting, although the state has discontinued enforcement of the 1977 law after a Florida appellate court struck down the measure.

The House version of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act was modeled after the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended in 1996, which similarly prohibits states from receiving federal funds if they engage in racial or ethnic discrimination when placing children in homes.

Gillibrand’s introduction of the legislation in the Senate will mark the first time ever that the legislation had been introduced in the upper chamber of Congress.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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