Julian Castro has been gaining a lot of momentum since he announced his run for president. Hoping to take the Democratic nomination, Castro has made it known he has a progressive vision for America's future. This includes the LGBTQ community and our evolving steps toward equality.

When it comes to same-sex adoption and foster care, Castro considers it a priority. He has pledged a $10 billion annual donation to child welfare programs. In addition to the donation, Castro has pledged to "take executive action to eliminate" the state and local laws preventing LGBTQ people from fostering or adopting in the name of religion.

As of right now, there are ten states that allow agencies to turn away prospective same-sex parents. In 2018, legislation was enacted in Oklahoma and Kansas allowing faith-based adoption and foster care centers to refuse placement to same-sex couples.

Many simply see this as an issue of religious freedom. If the agency is faith-based, shouldn't this give them the right to turn away same-sex couples if homosexuality goes against their faith? Some think so. When you really look at their faith, however, it doesn't appear to be that simple.

The argument used for why these agencies refuse same-sex couples is because their religion states a child needs both a mother and a father. One of the issues I have with certain religious people and organizations is how they force their religion on everybody else. When these same people complain about LGBTQ people forcing their identities on everybody, it feels like self-projection.

As long as they're having or adopting children with someone of the opposite sex, they're following their religious beliefs. They are the only ones who are under the obligation to follow their religion. I would like to know if there were any non-religious heterosexual couples have adopted from these faith-based agencies.

Maybe certain couples in small towns wanted to adopt and these were the only agencies they had access to. Were they turned away because they weren't a member of the right religion? Or maybe the couple lied just so they could give a child a loving home. Does that mean those involved with the agency are going to hell?

Allowing same-sex couples to adopt from their agency isn't going against their religion.

The core of my issue with these faith-based adoption agencies is how I perceive their motive. It doesn't seem like they prioritize helping these children find safe, healthy, loving families. If that's the case, I don't think they would be turning away couples for no other reason than their sexual orientation. That is only making it more difficult for the children to find homes. It's delaying the process.

What if the child doesn't want to follow the religion in question as they grow up? It seems like continuing the indoctrination is more important to these agencies.

The plan Castro is proposing will also create federal policies to train foster and adoptive families in LGBTQ competency. This will help ensure that these families will improve at creating accepting environments for LGBTQ youth. Studies show LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in adoption and foster care. Castro's plan also calls for the passage of the Equality Act.

When it comes to LGBTQ equality, we have made a lot of progress. However, we still have a long way to go. In terms of religion, we need to take a stand and make it clear that religious freedom is not under threat. LGBTQ youth are also extremely vulnerable to being disowned and conversion therapy.

Hopefully, a plan like Castro's will help make further progress. If another candidate gets the nomination, I hope they have a similar plan.