Poster Paper: Removing Barriers to U.S. Public Adoption: The Impact of Equal Legal Rights for Same-Sex Married Couples

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Scott Dallman, University of Minnesota

Within the last five years, the legal status and rights conferred to same--sex marriage has undergone major changes. Prior to the 2013 ruling of United States v. Windsor which found restrictions for same--sex marriage as defined under Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, only 12 states had legalized same--sex marriage. Beginning Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, the Internal Revenue Service announced it would recognize all legally married same--sex couples for federal marital tax benefit purposes.

This study examines how the legal recognition of same--sex marriage and the conferment of federal legal rights to same--sex married couples equal to those of heterosexual married couples has affected U.S. public adoption rates by using the IRS federal recognition of same--sex married couples in 2014 combined with information in the 2015 same-sex married couples joint tax filing population within a difference-in-differences framework. Preliminary findings suggest that the IRS federal recognition of same--sex married couples has a small but significant effect on the number of children adoption and number of older children publicly adopted since 2014. While this study cannot directly distinguish whether public adoptions by same--sex married couple has increased post--2014 because of data limitations, it suggests that the provision of equal civic rights for same--sex married couples may have reduced discrimination in the public adoption market, which would restricts as well as dissuade individuals' access to or use of markets, providing a greater opportunity of adoption for children in the public foster care systems.