U.S. Senate passes LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – April 26, 2010

The Task Force applauds the U.S. Senate’s passage by a vote of 68-31 today of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill, which for the first time includes explicit protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence.

The 1994 federal law provides funds to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and it bolsters victim services programs. The Task Force Action Fund, along with a broad coalition of organizations including the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, has been lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the law.

Breaking down barriers so foster kids can find a family

Seattle (CNN) — David Wing-Kovarik and his partner, Conrad, were ready to adopt a child.

They moved through all their requirements smoothly, even completing an orientation and training course for prospective parents.

Then they were confronted with their first real stumbling block.

“Our adoption agent said, ‘Well, you both look the same on paper, so who’s going to be the parent?'” Wing-Kovarik recalls.

In Arizona, where the couple lived at the time, only individuals and legally married couples may adopt from the U.S. foster care system. But because a same-sex couple cannot legally marry in the state, only one parent can be granted legal rights to the child.

“We saw (it) as a disadvantage to the child,” said Wing-Kovarik, 47. “We, frankly, got very angry about it when we thought about everybody else that was in the (training) class. None of them were asked this question. And it came down to the fact that we were a male couple. This was when we first experienced how being that gay couple just adds to the complexity of the whole process. It makes it much harder.”

In 18 states and the District of Columbia, same-sex couples can jointly petition to adopt a child. But in the other states, such as Arizona, the law either restricts joint adoption or is unclear.

That only adds confusion and frustration to what is already a “mind-numbing” adoption process, Wing-Kovarik said.

“It makes your head spin with the questions that are asked of you, with the forms that you have to fill out,” he said. “And then you have on top of that the fact that your family might not be that mom-and-dad home. You’re that gay or lesbian family … and the questions begin to change.”

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