This November 2008, I was gifted the chance to address the 35,000+ strong Civil Rights March in Los Angeles, California. I walked to the podium, passing the Mayor, Ricky Lake, Lucy Lawless, the City Attorney, Connie Rice, amongst a host of other luminaries. Amongst this series of speakers, I was to address an issue that is near to my heart -- the proponents of Prop 8 exploitation of children via fear mongering; and the passage in Arkansas of a measure to strip GLBT adults the right to foster or adopt. Much has been written about the misleading (blatant lies) by the proponents of 8 regarding public education here in California. However, the passage of a measure in Arkansas is even more troubling as it strips young people of a crucial right; the right to be in a loving adoptive or foster home. Here are the remarks I delivered.
The Exploitation of Children by the "Pro-Family" Agenda in Arkansas
This election gave me so much hope, as an American, that was in part defeated by the passage of Prop 8 -- like all of you here today. But I want to bring attention to the anti-family legislation passed in Arkansas, because I survived foster care -- and we need to give a voice to those young people.
After 11 years of homelessness and instability, I was removed from my dysfunctional biological family, and was placed in the foster care system. My sister, here with me today, was also placed in care.
Arkansas, this November, banned foster parenting and adoption by "unmarried" people, thus excluding gay parents. The state joins Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Utah.
I'm confused by these states, calling themselves pro-family, yet allowing foster youth to bounce from foster home to foster home in a downward spiral until less than 47% of foster youth graduate high school, and less than 4% go to college. How is keeping youth out of loving homes pro-family or pro-child? And, what sort of message does this send to GLBT youth in foster care?
The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a similar law two years ago -- itself finding that there is no truth to the arguments made by opponents of GLBT Adoption & Foster Parenting:
The Court Found that:
Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents; and that having gay parents doesn't increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, academic, gender identity, or any other sort of adjustment problems; nor do gay people engage in any more domestic violence or sexual abuse than heterosexual people...
Despite these findings, the opponents of GLBT adoption and fostering organized behind the charade of "Pro-Family" and by ballot, stripped away hope from thousands of children and thousands of parents.
Children have become a pawn for the so called "Pro Family" contingent in the greater national struggle over Full Equality for Gays and Lesbians, and that is the real tragedy Arkansas demonstrates. Its likely one day I'll adopt, not because of some twisted political agenda -- but because that kid deserves a better chance than I had for a loving home.
The exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members is harmful to children because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents. And as we march today, I hope folks realize that Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Trans, Bi foster and adoptive Kids all across this country need a loving home -- and they don't care who is married to whom.
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