Here’s what we expect (and are now seeing) for equal rights legislation in 2020. Thanks to your donations to Adoptees United, we’ve launched our public national legislative tracking service here, which updates in real time. The service includes bill sheets, regular updates, and legislative scorecards.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act.It’s hard to say if this is the year Congress will enact legislation that closes a ridiculous loophole in the law, which denies automatic citizenship to tens of thousands of adults who were adopted as children by U.S. citizen parents. The bill as introduced is a no-brainer, and every adopted person should strongly support it. The bill continues to pick up broad and diverse bipartisan support from members of Congress, and a new national coalition has formed around this issue. Whether the bill will ultimately include automatic citizenship for all intercountry adoptees in the United States is an open question.
Arizona.Advocates in Arizona pursued an unrestricted equal rights bill in 2019, only to watch it die, get resurrected as a strike-all bill, and then die again after a committee hearing. Legislators at that hearing indicated support for adding discriminatory restrictions to the bill and ultimately appeared to push the issue for discussion in a task force or study group. It’s not known if a bill is going to be pursued again in Arizona in 2020. The legislature convenes on January 13, 2020. Heritage Connections AZ is the state group behind the push for legislation in the state.
Connecticut.Access Connecticut is expected to continue a years-long effort to close a date-based loophole in state law, which does not provide an unrestricted right to obtain the OBC, except for those who were adopted after October 1, 1983. The state is heavily Catholic, and opposition from a few legislators as well as from Catholic Charities has made what should be an easy loophole fix more difficult to get through the legislature, particularly the Connecticut House.
Florida.Rep. Richard Stark has already filed the same bill that passed the Florida House last session, though it later died in a Senate committee. The bill does little to advance equal rights for adoptees. Instead, it reinforces birthparent consent as a requirement to release any identifying information, including the original birth certificate. This is Rep. Stark’s last legislative term, as Florida imposes term limits on its legislators. He is also currently running for mayor of the town of Weston. Equal rights advocates do not expect to put significant time into the current Florida bill and there does not appear to be broad grassroots or on-the-ground support for it.
Iowa.Last session the Iowa legislature came close to final consideration of a discriminatory bill that would have allowed for redaction of information on the OBC. The group pursuing that bill agreed to and supported the discriminatory language, and we have not seen any change in that position. It is not believed at this time that genuine equal rights legislation can pass in Iowa given the agreed-upon compromise on the bill in the prior session. The Iowa legislature convenes on January 14, 2020.
Minnesota.Minnesota finally has a bill that could end the state’s forty-two year history of compromise and discrimination. SF2606/HF2906 are the first clean bills filed in Minnesota, and they constitute a necessary step toward dismantling a complex system that has existed in Minnesota since 1977. The bills have carried over to the 2020 session, which convenes on February 10, 2020. The Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform as well as the Adoptee Rights Law Center and Adoptees United support the current bill.
Maine.Advocates in Maine are expected to continue efforts to try to eliminate the “sealing” of original birth certificates after an adoption, though prior bill drafts have been problematic by mandating a single document containing all names, whether adopted or biological. The bills have met strong opposition from adoptee advocates as well as the LGBTQ+ community. The bill died in committee last session. Maine’s legislature convenes on January 1, 2020.
Massachusetts.Advocates continue to eliminate a donut-hole in state law that denies an unrestricted right to obtain a copy of the OBC to those who were adopted between 1974 and 2008. Though the Massachusetts legislature is technically still in session until November 2019, nothing will happen by the time of adjournment. The current bill will carry over to 2020, and the legislature reconvenes on January 2, 2020.
Wisconsin.Wisconsin has an “identifying information” bill that would release the report of adoption, a court-generated record, upon request of an adult adopted person. Hearings on the bill have not gone well, and it is discussed here in more detail.
West Virginia.West Virginia senators have introduced a bill identical to last year’s discriminatory bill that allows birthparents to file redaction requests, leading to the elimination of a birthparent’s information on the original birth certificate.
We are involved in discussions around equal rights legislation in the District of Columbia, Michigan, and Maryland—and already have draft model bills being reviewed—but it’s too early to tell what may or not develop in those jurisdictions and whether those on the ground are committed to genuine equal rights, without discriminatory restrictions. If you want to be part of these or any other adoptee-led civil rights efforts, make sure you sign up with us here (or click the button below). We will be in touch.
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State Legislative Sessions: 2020
|District of Columbia