Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing new federal legislation to ensure members of the LGBT community have the same access as heterosexual couples when it comes to adopting children. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Stephen Millikin and his partner Carson Glover began a journey to adopt four years ago.They were eager to start a family like those featured on agency brochures and websites, but found out that would be more difficult than they had thought.
"We're on the telephone and they would say just outright that they don't work with sinners like us or they don't work with people like us and so there was a lot of pain along the way," Millikin said.
That's the reality many same-sex couples face as federally funded agencies deny them for adoptions based on undisclosed preferences not to work with members of the LGBT community. This, while thousands of children wait for a permanent home.
"Twenty-three thousand youth across the country will age out of foster care each year. When youth aged out of foster care they're put at a higher risk for a number of negative social and economic outcomes," said Legislative Counsel for the Family Equality Council Michael Porcello.
It's estimated that as many as two million LGBT people are willing to adopt if they could.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing a new law that would make it easier for them to do so.
Her proposed "Every Child Deserves a Family" bill would prohibit adoption agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating against adoptive or foster parents based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
"It will mean that more kids will be fostered through the foster care system and more children in need of adoption will be adopted and it will help those children reach their full potential," Gillibrand said.
The bill does have to get through congress though, where gay marriage has faced obstacles.
Gillibrand is optimistic it will pass.
"I'm hopeful that through our advocacy we can get to senators who perhaps maybe aren't ready yet for full marriage equality but could be willing to support a foster care child or a child that has no parent in the adoptive care system who just needs a family," Gillibrand said.
New York is one of seven states that explicitly bans discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation.
Gillibrand hopes to get a federal passed by next year.