On February 9, ten Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives introduced the Adoptive and Foster Children’s Protection Act (H.B. 515), which would prohibit GLBT individuals and those who reside with us from adopting or fostering children. The passage of H.B. 515 would be a sad turn of events, given that Ohio was once hailed as the first state in the nation to say that single gays and lesbians could adopt children. It is important to point out that H.B. 515 would not only discriminate against GLBT Ohioans, but also straight Ohioans who reside with us.
H.B. 515 reveals the bankruptcy of the Ohio Republican Party’s absolute claims to pro-life and pro-family values. Can one really claim Christian social principles, such as respect for the dignity of human life and the value of the family, while denying Ohio’s adoptive and foster children homes with loving families?
Christ warned us that we would know those who claim to speak in his name by their fruits, the effects of their words and actions. What fruits can we look forward to from this bill born of the unholy pairing of Ohio’s rightwing political and religious leaders? The most obvious and immediate fruit of H.B. 515 would be a decrease in the number of homes available to Ohio’s adoptive and foster children. As the number of homes for adoptive and foster children decrease, can we not expect that the abortion rate in Ohio will increase? What mother will want to abandon her child to a system that will be increasingly unable to place the child in a home with a loving family? As adoption becomes a less and less viable alternative for Ohio’s women, is it not plausible to assume that women who would otherwise seek adoption will seek abortion?
Neither will H.B. 515 have a positive impact on Ohio’s families. Since H.B. 515 will not only discriminate against us but against the straight women and men we reside with, the bill will present difficult new problems for families with GLBT members. Consider this situation: An infertile couple living with an elderly GLBT parent or other relative seek to adopt children, and are promptly turned away by the state of Ohio because of the elderly GLBT relative who resides with them. The dilemma here is to remain childless or to expel the vulnerable GLBT relative from their home. Quite a choice!
What about Ohio’s GLBT foster and adoptive children? What will become of them? True, individuals or couples who only want to foster or adopt one child will be able to foster or adopt a GLBT child if they choose to. Couples who want to foster or adopt multiple children, however, will be unable to foster or adopt GLBT children because having a GLBT child residing with them could prevent the adoption of other children. The result of this strange policy will be that fewer GLBT children will be adopted in Ohio. If that’s not discrimination in its ugliest form, sisters and brothers, I don’t know what is. It must also be considered that this policy would virtually guarantee the separation of GLBT children from their siblings, since placing other children in a home with GLBT residents would be a violation of the law.
It is clear that the fight against H.B. 515 is not just a fight for GLBT Ohioans and our straight allies. The fight against H.B. 515 must be fought by all Ohioans who believe that pro-life and pro-family values mean opening every available home with loving and willing families to Ohio’s adoptive and foster children. The fight against H.B. 515 must be fought not only by secular liberals and liberal people of faith, but by all individuals and all people of faith who are unwilling to throw Ohio’s children away: either in abortion clinics, or in an adoptive and foster care system that will become a bottomless pit from which some of Ohio’s children will never emerge.
Nate Nelson contributed to Whosoever while majoring in political science at Ohio University Eastern and expressing pride in his identity as an out gay man and practicing Roman Catholic active in local parish life.