Rep. Michele Bachmann took up adoption as a cause this month in a big way, with everything from a Buzzfeed community listicle to introducing a House resolution "promot[ing] national awareness of adoption." But her colleague Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney apparently found out that Bachmann's bill isn't meant to support all adoptive parents. Specifically, it's not meant to support the family of the openly-gay Maloney, who has three adopted children. According to Maloney, Bachmann "refused" to add language to her bill that would support LGBT families and adoption. Here's how Maloney put it in an email to supporters:
As a father of three adopted children, I couldn’t agree with her more. So I reached out to Rep. Bachmann to ask her to add language supporting all adoptive families, including families with two dads or two moms. After all, family is family, and the thousands of children in our country waiting to be adopted need parents, not political agendas.
But here’s the thing: She refused. She’s intentionally excluding families like mine.
Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner snagged a screenshot of the exact language Bachmann reportedly turned away:
Bachmann did not immediately return requests for comment from both Buzzfeed and The Wire. Update: Later on Thursday, Bachmann spokesperson Dan Kotman told Buzzfeed the following in response to the dispute:
The resolution honoring National Adoption Month is a bipartisan effort sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. The focus of the resolution is on helping vulnerable children, as has always been the case when we have introduced it in previous years.
Maloney has since introduced his own LGBT-friendly resolution to the House supporting adoption.
Given Bachmann's record against supporting gay marriage legislation, this is not the most surprising tidbit of Bachmann news. But it does put a spotlight on the complexities of adoption politics. Bachmann has taken care to frame the issue as a bipartisan one. "Every child needs to know that at least one person is crazy about them," she said in a release promoting her bill, which is co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Karen Bass. Bachmann also has personal stake in the issue: she's housed a total of 23 foster children over time. But despite its public perception as a noble cause, adoption is not always a situation where everybody wins. A harrowing piece published recently in Slate on how some adoptions can go tragically wrong hits that message home.
This is also certainly true for LGBT couples looking to adopt, as state-by-state laws allowing parents to adopt jointly (or to adopt the child of a same-sex partner) vary. Earlier this year, for instance, the Michigan state House introduced a bill that would allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT couples on religious grounds. It's a tricky issue, as many of the private agencies handling the state's adoption process are religious in nature. Virginia passed a similar bill in 2012.