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LGBTQ Adoption Rights: Battles Won, But the Fight Continues


In 2016, gay adoption became legal in all 50 states after a federal judge ruled that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children was unconstitutional. In his decision, the judge cited the pivotal Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide the year before.


It was a major victory for the LGBTQ community. A spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hailed the decision at the time, stating:


“Judge Jordan has repudiated reprehensible efforts by our elected leaders to deny legal rights to our families. They are on the wrong side of history, and today’s decision confirms, yet again, that they are also on the wrong side of the law.”


Before the Mississippi ruling, adoption laws varied by state. Some states granted full adoption rights to same-sex couples, while others banned it or placed restrictions on which partner could adopt.


Despite the rulings legalizing gay marriage and adoption, LGBTQ people and same-sex couples still face discrimination when attempting to adopt or become foster parents.


According to the Movement Advancement Project, child welfare agents in many states are still allowed to refuse to place foster children with LGBTQ people and same-sex couples—if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.


And, in recent years, states have ramped up efforts to pass bills protecting the right of religious groups to deny adoption services and fostering to LGBTQ families.


Even though the public has become significantly more supportive of gay marriage and same-sex parenting in the last two decades, half of Americans still believe it’s acceptable for adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples for religious reasons.


The Conservative Fight for “Traditional Family Values”


Conservatives have long preached against the alleged harms of LGBTQ parenting—clutching their pearls over the loss of the “traditional family.”


Although Republican support for gay marriage has risen in the last two decades, they have been the slowest to catch up with the rest of the country.


Rick Santorum has been one of the most steadfast opponents of gay marriage and LGBTQ parents, once comparing same-sex marriage to 9/11. In 2012, he told a New Hampshire audience that children are better off with a father in prison than being raised by lesbian parents.


The Trump Administration did its part to make life harder for LGBTQ people. In 2019, Mike Pence praised a proposed Trump administration rule that would allow federal funding to go to adoption agencies that refuse to place children with LGBTQ families.


On the whole, conservatives still cling to the notion that same-sex parenting is an assault on “traditional values,” and they continue to wage war on prospective parents who are LGBTQ.


Do LGBTQ People Make Better Parents?


And yet, research shows that LGBTQ people not only make fine parents, but they may bring certain talents to parenting their hetero counterparts don’t.


While “better” is subjective, there are reasons gay parents may in fact do better in some ways than straight parents, according to experts.


Research has shown that gay parents tend to be more motivated and more committed than heterosexual parents, on average. By and large, this is because they become parents by choice at much higher rates. While the accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals hovers around 50%, gay parents rarely become parents by accident.


On average, gay parents are more committed and more involved in their kids’ lives.


Research also indicates that kids have the advantage of open-mindedness, tolerance, and role models for equitable relationships in gay parents.


Gay People Are More Likely to Adopt Children