President’s Mother’s Day proclamation honors all types of mothers

For the second time ever, a president’s annual Mother’s Day proclamation has included a specific mention of families that have two mothers.

President Obama’s May 6 proclamation said in part, “Whether an adoptive mom or grandmother, mother or partner, the women who raise us show us that no hurdle is too high, and no dream is beyond our reach.”

Last year, his Mother’s Day proclamation said, “Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by two parents, a single mother, two mothers, a step-mom, a grandmother, or a guardian.”

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, a support and advocacy group for LGBT families, issued a statement in response to this year’s proclamation, saying, “The President continues to recognize and celebrate that today’s American family is made up of a wide and diverse fabric of people. The Family Equality Council joins him in recognizing the women who bind those families together in love.”

But President Obama’s April 29 proclamation of May as National Foster Care Month did not mention LGBT families, even though the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children, Youth and Families issued a memo April 6 encouraging child welfare agencies to better serve the needs of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth” in the foster care system, and calling LGBT prospective parents “a largely untapped resource” for providing foster or adoptive homes to LGBTQ young people.

Each year, there are approximately 500,000 children in the United States foster care system—over 100,000 of whom are waiting for adoptive homes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

At the same time, over two million gay and lesbian adults are ready and willing to adopt a child, according to a 2007 study by the Williams Institute of UCLA.

Several states, however, including Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Utah, and Virginia, continue to prevent LGBT people—individually or as couples—from adopting.

The federal Every Child Deserves a Family Act, introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) last week, would withhold federal adoption and foster care assistance funds from states that discriminate against LGBT people in foster placements or adoption.

President Obama, in his two proclamations naming November as National Adoption Month, has never said anything explicitly in support of LGBT parents, but has hinted at a need for fairness, stating in 2010, “We must do all we can to break down barriers to ensure that all qualified caregivers have the ability to serve as adoptive families,” and in 2009, “By continually opening up the doors to adoption, and supporting full equality in adoption laws for all American families, we allow more children to find the permanent homes they yearn for and deserve.”

He has acknowledged LGBT people in other proclamations. In 2009, he issued the first Presidential Pride Month proclamation since President Clinton in 2000.

In proclaiming Sept. 28, 2009, as Family Day, he said, “Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.”

And in his 2010 Father’s Day proclamation, he mentioned families with two dads.

One day before his Mother’s Day proclamation, however, he proclaimed Military Spouse Appreciation Day, saying, “The readiness of our troops depends on the readiness of our military families, as millions of parents, children, and loved ones sacrifice as well. This means supporting our military spouses is also a national security imperative.” He made no mention of the same-sex partners of servicemembers, even though in December he signed a bill to start the process of repealing the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.

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