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Birth Rights: House Bill 60 

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The certificate of birth, especially for an adopted child, is a precious document that confers many rights and privileges.

OPINION: House Bill 60, which goes to the state Senate this week, is in direct opposition to the well-being of Louisiana children.

Our country was founded on the principle that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. It is an inherent, essential feature of democracy. It is what has propelled the United States of America to a global leadership position on issues of social justice and human rights.

  Although citizens from around this country, state and the City of New Orleans possess a wide range of views, one issue that will never be controversial is that our children come first. Democrats, Republicans, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, rich, poor ­— all of these disparate groups share the conviction that it is a priority to ensure the welfare of our society's children. It follows, then, that any proposed law that intentionally or inadvertently harms children in this country should immediately be met with careful scrutiny, if not outright opposition.

  Louisiana House Bill No. 60 is a law that merits such scrutiny.

  This legislation passed through the Louisiana House of Representatives last Tuesday and now moves on to the Senate. Not only would the adoption of this bill be unethical, it contradicts a current federal court ruling as well.

  House Bill No. 60 restricts the right of Louisiana's adopted children to have two parents listed on a new birth certificate unless those parents are married in accordance with state law. Not only does the bill, in effect, deprive thousands of foster children in Louisiana of loving, caring families based on their potential adoptive parents' sexual orientation, it makes it extremely difficult for those children who are adopted by unmarried couples (heterosexual or homosexual) to apply for standard benefits such as school registration, medical coverage, life insurance and government services.

  The certificate of birth, especially for an adopted child, is a precious document that confers many rights and privileges. To add another layer of bureaucracy to the process of adoption and birth certificate reissuance, when the state should be facilitating these processes for our children's sake, is ludicrous.

  Louisiana House Bill No. 60, though it does not explicitly mention homosexual couples, is an indirect but targeted attack on this group. Studies show that same-sex couples raising adopted children are, on average, older, more educated and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents, and that there are no negative consequences for children of gay and lesbian parents in regard to standard measures of well-being. Statements by the American Medical Association, American Bar Association, National Association of Social Workers, Child Welfare League of America, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychoanalytic Association, North American Council on Adoptable Children and American Academy of Family Physicians consistently state that discrimination against gay and lesbian parents should not be tolerated, as their adopted children are indistinguishable from children adopted by straight couples.

  As I write this opinion piece, I am wearing two hats. I am vice president of the New Orleans City Council, which at the full Council meeting May 7 unanimously passed my resolution opposing House Bill No. 60. More important, though, I am the proud father of two adopted girls, who now have a loving home and newly issued birth certificates, on which my wife and I are both listed. As adoptive parents, we understand the significant effect this piece of paper will have on our daughters' lives, and we hope that foster children across Louisiana are not denied a similar document on account of this legislation.

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