Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today with my good friend, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen), to introduce the Every Child Deserves a Family Act in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month. Our colleague, the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Gillibrand) will sponsor the companion legislation in the Senate.
First, I would like to thank my friend, my sister, Congresswoman ROS-LEHTINEN for being my partner in this important fight. I would also like to pay tribute to our former colleague, Congressman Stark, and the hard work of his staff, Jeff Hild, in first championing this important bill. I am fully committed to moving this landmark legislation across the finish line.
Last week, our constituents--including Philip McAdoo and his son Zaden from Atlanta--came to Washington, DC to highlight how essential a loving home can be to a child in need of support and understanding. Philip, his partner Sean Cavanaugh, and Zaden are a beautiful, loving, globe-trotting family; simply being with them just warms your heart. Their story is the happy ending which every foster care youth and potential parent should have the opportunity to experience.
Today, there are more than 400,000 children in our foster care system, with over 104,000 of them waiting for a permanent family. There are ample ``qualified'' adoptive and foster parents who are overlooked. As result, far too many youth ``age out'' without any family to support and love them. This bill would fix this problem--saving money and heartache and restoring hope and happiness in the process.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act is a simple and straightforward proposal. It would prohibit any entity that receives federal child welfare funds from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identification, or marital status. This bill also prevents discrimination against foster care youth on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity.
Mr. Speaker, I fought too long and too hard against discrimination of every kind. This is a problem that is fixable. Our common-sense legislation is supported by nearly 100 child welfare, civil rights, GLBT advocacy, and faith-based organizations because it places the best interest of every child first.
Today, we are joined by over 50 Members of Congress in introducing this bill, and I hope all of my colleagues will join us in support of this good will effort. Simply said, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is just the right thing to do.