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Opinion: The Definition of Family Is Not Up to Alabama Legislators

America has been codifying discrimination for hundreds of years, and new laws -- like Alabama's HB 24 -- often recycle the same tools of oppression.
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There is a strong temptation in Trump’s America for us to decry that this is not normal. It is crucial that we do not accept many of Trump’s actions as normal or presidential, but it is equally crucial to remember that Trump didn’t suddenly reinvigorate America’s tendencies toward racism and discrimination. The truth is, America has been codifying discrimination for hundreds of years, and new laws often recycle the same tools of oppression.

Alabama’s HB 24 is a perfect example. The law allows state-funded adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBT couples, citing religious beliefs. Apologists for this law are quick to argue that "this bill has nothing to do with trying to disallow same-sex couples to adopt." The lawmakers want to ensure adoption agencies don’t shut down rather than serve LGBT couples.

Religious freedom was an argument lawmakers continually relied on in order to pass anti-miscegenation bills, and is constantly invoked as a way to ensure women can’t access reproductive health care. Just as in the case of LGBT adoption, those laws were supported by flimsy evidence and myths about the definition of a stable family.

Invidious myths about same-sex households, despite research showing children of LGBT parents grow up as successfully as children of heterosexual parents, persist in state houses across the country. There are 400,000 children in the foster care system nationwide, but state houses want to protect the right to discriminate and to force religious doctrine on others, far more than they want to protect the children in their state.

At Choice Network, LGBT families make up 35 percent of our families, and we hope to see those numbers continue to rise. The adoption community needs these families. Waiting children in the system need these families, as do parents who, facing unplanned pregnancies, want to find the best families to raise a child.

At Choice Network, family isn’t something the state has a right to decide. Our network of parents and children build families based on love, and love doesn’t discriminate.

These laws are a painful reminder to LGBT individuals and families that so often their love is seen as less valid. These laws are built on a history of racism and discrimination, reminding us that laws outlawing marriage between people of color and white people are not in the distant past. Building on these racist laws particularly impacts LGBT families of color, who bear with systematized racism and homophobia.

Yet the families who are a part of Choice Network give me hope. The future they see is one of solidarity and intersectionality, where love is love and family is what we choose to make it. Every day, we will fight against the tired tools of oppression until our country stands on the right side of history. This fight is for our families –- our women, our children and their choices.

Molly Rampe Thomas is the founder of Choice Network, and Kate Kight is a political associate at LPAC.

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