According to the 2010 Census, two million children in the United States are being raised by lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender parents (LGBT), the majority of them in southern states. Same-sex couples living in Mississippi are the most likely to be raising children, followed by Louisiana and Texas.
And now a new study, “All Children Matter,” concludes that these children have become the “collateral damage” of laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT Americans. The report comes just as the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin debate Nov. 3 on the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples. The study was conducted by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the Family Equality Council, the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, the National Association of Social Workers, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and COLAGE, with a foreword by the Child Welfare League of America.
Laws like those in North Carolina deny legal ties to the non-biological parent, having an effect on custody arrangements, inheritance and Social Security survivor benefits in the event of a death of the parent who is a “legal stranger.” They also make adoption impossible for children awaiting homes in those states.
“Even if you are an opponent of gays and lesbians, the fact is, they are already raising kids and these are policies that leave them economically destitute or undermine their family stability,” said Ineke Mushovic, one of the study authors from the Movement Advancement Project.
“It’s just wrong, and I don’t think the majority of Americans and policy makers really understand the lack of recognition for these families has this kind of impact and harms kids,” she said.