Out in Nebraska three same-sex couples are suing the governor, Dave Heineman, and two other officials over a longstanding state policy that prevents LGBT Nebraskans from becoming foster parents or adopting children in state custody because, you know, gay.
The policy dates back to 1995 when an administrative memorandum was issued by Mary Dean Harvey, then director of the Nebraska Department of Social Services, which stated:
"It is my decision that, effective immediately, it is the policy of the Department of Social Services that children will not be placed in the homes of persons who identify themselves as homosexuals."
As in me saying, “Hello! Nice to meet you! I’m Bob, the homosexual.”
Since then the policy has prohibited HHS from issuing foster home licenses to, or placing children with, anyone who is gay, or even to couples who are “unrelated, unmarried adults residing together,” meaning that, since 1995, Nebraska has said that single people, and gay people, and even heterosexual couples who aren’t married, are unfit to be parents.
Hence the lawsuit. One of the couples among the plaintiffs are Greg and Stillman Stewart, who adopted five children who now range in age from 13 to 20 from the California foster care system before moving to Nebraska:
“When we moved to Nebraska, we felt we could welcome other children in need of families now that our kids are grown, [but] when we called HHS to apply to become foster parents, we were told that despite our experience raising five wonderful children, we were not eligible.”
Gay; and hopefully these plaintiffs will win their suit against the state because, with so many children in foster care, and so many people, gay and straight, married and single, who wish to be foster parents, wouldn’t it be in the best interests of the child and not maintaining some bassackwards law?
And to that end, a few Nebraska lawmakers are expected to debate a bill in their next session that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation when determining the suitability of a placement or in issuing a foster care license, and would help remove barriers to placing children with someone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
One is Democratic Senator Jeremy Nordquist [top left], who introduced a bill to overturn the ban, which was heard by the Unicameral's Judiciary Committee last week; and the other is Democratic Senator Adam Morfeld [top right], who questioned anti-gay activist Greg Neuhaus, a fan of the ban, who told the committee he felt Nordquist’s bill is "promoting an agenda."
You know that elusive Gay Agenda, which we like to call Equality, but I digress …
Morfeld, who has also introduced pro-LGBT legislation, responded that Nordquist's measure would simply ban discrimination, to which Neuhaus replied that he is in favor of keeping The Gays from being foster parents as much as he is “opposed to placing a child with an unmarried heterosexual couple."
"And why's that, sir?" Adam Morfeld asked.
"Because I don't think it's in the best interest of the child," Neuhaus said, to which Adam Morfeld, the son of a single mother replied:
"So, my mother was a single mother for 15 years. I grew up, I didn't get into trouble. I went to school. I went to school after working full-time for two years. I went to night school while working full-time for two years. I had a part-time job on top of that. And then I went to the University of Nebraska and worked my way through the University of Nebraska, and then after that I went to the University of Nebraska College of Law. During that time, I started a nonprofit that now employs 30 full- and part-time staff. My mother was a single mother. Did she do something wrong?"
"I didn't say she did. No," Neuhaus responded, though he sensed his big foot had entered his mouth and he tried to get up and leave the witness table after saying, "I'm not going to just be lectured to. If you want to ask me a question, I'll answer it."
Morfeld told Neuhaus that he could walk away, but he was going to finish regardless:
"Under your rationale, my mother who's a single mother likely isn't the most fit parent, and the point that I'm trying to make is that fit parents come in all shapes and sizes, all kinds of sexual orientations, and that's all I have to say. Thank you for your testimony."
Jeremy Nordquist and Adam Morfeld; LGBT allies, and allies to foster children and families.