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Faith-based adoption agencies can reject LGBT families under new rule proposed by Trump administration

The proposal will strip away the Obama-era non-discrimination regulation that banned bias on the basis of sexual orientation, religion or gender identity
UPDATED FEB 26, 2020
(Source : Getty Images)
(Source : Getty Images)

The Trump-Pence administration proposed a federal regulation last week that would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away would-be parents based on the agencies' religious beliefs and still continue to receive federal money. This will leave a lot of room for discrimination against religious minorities, LGBTQ  community as well as immigrants, the homeless and those affected by HIV, activists say. 

This proposal would strip away the Obama-era non-discrimination regulation that banned biased decisions being made on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among others.

The proposal would be like a free pass to discriminate across the entire spectrum of HHS programs that get federal funding. (Getty Images)

The proposal would be like a free pass to discriminate across the entire spectrum of Health and Human Services programs that get federal funding, said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. "This would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women in programs related to foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention, youth homelessness, refugee resettlement, elder care programs and more," he said in a statement to MEA World Wide.

Calling the move "unconscionable", David added that the administration was prioritizing advancing discrimination over the wellbeing of vulnerable people.

Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, echoed his views. She warned that a rule like the one proposed would put more than 400,000 children in foster care in jeopardy, through discrimination.

"It is despicable that this administration would authorize taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against children and turn away qualified families they desperately need. Children and families should not be denied services because of discrimination," Cooper said in a statement. 

Conservative groups, however, have welcomed the decision. "Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a press statement.  

Research has consistently shown that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many are rejected by their families because of their identity. A report by the HRC found that states that had taxpayer-funded child welfare programs (adoption and foster care services). that were allowed to pick and choose to whom they provide their services to, have discriminated against LGBTQ people. These leeways allow them to refuse various medical treatments to LGBTQ children in their care.

This is "extremist policy-makers" using religion to justify hurtful and hateful policies says National Organization for Women President, Toni Van Pelt. "The HHS rule has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with intolerance and right-wing politics." 

The HHS announced in January earlier this year that South Carolina could refuse its services, based on their religious beliefs. The move allowed Miracle Hill to stay in business even after being scrutinized for denying Beth Lesser the opportunity to foster because she was Jewish.