Gay Rights To Adoptions Essay, Research Paper
Almost anywhere in North America, gay rights issues are on the political agendas.
This has been an ongoing issue for the past ten years. However, significant
results have hardly been seen until some five years ago. Still today, many
homosexual individuals have to fight hard on a daily basis to be treated equally as
non-married heterosexual couples, in order to gain such ?privilege? as the right
In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sexual orientation is
protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and
consequently, the Human Rights Commission announced that it would begin to
accept complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation. By then, all
Provinces, except Alberta, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, had already
outlawed discrimination against homosexuals in their own provincial human rights
codes. Furthermore, a new tendency in court ruling across the country — as well
as in private corporations — started quietly handing homosexual men and women,
same-sex employee benefits, bereavement leave and rights to adoptions.
Unfortunately, it is not so everywhere in Canada. In 1991, Delwin Vriend,
a laboratory instructor at Edmonton?s King?s College was dismissed after
affirming that he was gay. Vriend went to court claiming that it was unacceptable
to fire openly gay workers in Alberta. However, at the end of the trial, in
February 1996, the judge explicitly stated otherwise when he said that: ?Social
policy is a matter for elected legislator to decide, not the courts, and that the
legislature had not included sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of
discrimination ? (Dwyer, 1996, p.24), in Alberta?s human rights code.
In the mean time, the gay community of Canada wants more than the
recognition of the rights of gay individuals, but also that of their partnership. In
1996?s Ontario ruling, for example, the court ordered a fundamental redefinition
of the word ?spouse? in the province?s Child and Family Services Act to include
partners of the same sex. Adversely, this kind of decision makes some people
fear that such new laws could easily lead to subsequent pressure to allow gay
marriage. Reform MP of the time, Ian McClelland said that: ? If your wife ask
about why there is a brochure for a new car on the kitchen table, you can tell her
it?s only a brochure. But the next thing she knows, there?s going to be a car in
the driveway? (Dwyer, 1996, p.25).
Close to home, in the United States, in 1998, New Jersey became the first
state to set a policy allowing gay and unmarried couple to jointly adopt children
under the same qualification standards as married couples. In most of the other
state it is current practice to let the court decide what criteria is used to
determine the best placement for a child, but New Jersey had a policy against
joint adoption of children in state custody by couple who were not married.
Therefore, previously, gays in the state of New Jersey could adopt only as
individuals, forcing couples to undertake the lengthy and expensive adoptions
process twice. However, ?courts in Colorado and Wisconsin disallow such
?double-adoptions?; New Hampshire and Florida prohibit any adoptions by gays,
even as individuals? (Cloud, 1997, p.106). But now in New jersey, all unmarried
couple, gays and ?straight? can adopt.
Throught out the United States, there are between 20 and 25 states
where lesbians and gay men are routinely adopting children, but it tends to be an
arbitrary decision. It is somewhat dangerous when an adoption policy is arbitrary
contrary to something written down.
This new New Jersey policy brought waves of opposition by religious rights
groups such as the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council. Kristen
Hansen, a spokesperson for the latter group declared that the settlement
agreement was ?a loss for children. This is bringing state government in to …
give[ing] it?s stamp of approval to these practices, and it seems to have
government saying for the first time that a gay environment is a good one to
grow up in? (Brienza, 1998, p98).
Still, in practice, adoption policy are almost made case by case, and
sympathetic judges — in the U.S., every adoption must be sanctioned by a judge
– can allow just about any arrangement. It is estimated that thousands of gays
have adopted over that past 20 years.