Three LGB members of Congress led an effort on Wednesday in opposition to a Trump administration waiver allowing South Carolina adoption agencies to refuse child placement into LGBT homes.
In a letter dated Feb. 13, Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) — the only openly gay members of the U.S. House who are parents — and bisexual Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) led 95 House Democrats in denouncing the waiver, which allows the Greenville-based Miracle Hill Ministries to decline to place children with families contrary to its religious beliefs.
“We are writing to express our strong condemnation of this waiver because it will deny children the safe, loving and happy families they deserve and turn away qualified potential parents,” the letter says. “We strongly urge you to stop this despicable taxpayer-funded discrimination and uphold the essential non-discrimination protections that ensure that every child has a loving home.”
Last month, the Department of Health & Human Services announced it had granted South Carolina a request for a waiver from an Obama-era rule prohibiting adoption agencies that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. That decision brought an outcry from supporters of LGBT families.
The letter from 95 House Democrats to Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar notes how the waiver could impact LGBT children in South Carolina seeking a home as well as the potential implications for LGBT kids in foster care nationwide.
“Permitting these agencies to use a litmus test to turn away qualified adoptive and foster parents reduces the number of loving families available to the over 4,000 children in South Carolina’s foster care system and the more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide,” the letter says.
Stan Sloan, CEO of the pro-LGBT Family Equality Council, commended lawmakers for writing the letter in a statement.
“We are grateful to members of Congress for standing with the faith, child welfare, and LGBTQ communities to say ‘no’ to discrimination in foster care and adoption, thus ensuring that America’s 440,000 foster children are not needlessly denied the loving, supportive families they deserve,” Sloan said.
More action may come on this front from the Trump administration. At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump declared support for religiously affiliated adoption agencies seeking to place children into homes consistent with their religious beliefs.
“My administration is working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs,” Trump said.
The Washington Blade has placed a request with HHS seeking comment on the letter and an inquiry on whether any more requests for waivers from the adoption regulation are pending before the department.