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Trump Administration Proposes New Rule To Allow Faith-Based Adoption Agencies To Refuse LGBT Parents

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The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would no longer force faith-based adoption agencies that receive federal grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to process adoptions to same-sex couples.

The rule seeks to wipe away an Obama-era regulation that said adoption agencies getting federal grants could not consider sexual orientation or gender identity as factors in approving potential adoptive parents.

The proposed rule was published Friday, and could take effect in 30 days if there are no legal challenges.

“HHS is committed to fully enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress. The proposed rule would better align its grants regulations with federal statutes, eliminating regulatory burden, including burden on the free exercise of religion,” HHS said in a statement. Federal anti-discrimination laws do not touch upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

“HHS is affirming that it will comply with all applicable Supreme Court decisions in administering its grants programs,” the statement said, but noted that the Obama-era rule violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Constitution and also went beyond the department’s authority.

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Some cheered the Trump administration’s proposal.

“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. Under the proposed HHS rule, faith-based adoption providers will no longer have to choose between abandoning their faith or abandoning homeless children because the government disapproves of their views on marriage,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement.

“Faith-based adoption services are motivated by their faith to perform a public service, one that is woefully undersupplied. Discriminating against them for the very reason that motivates them to perform this irreplaceable service is the height of folly.

“Overextended, financially-strapped social service government agencies are unable to fill the void left by shuttered faith-based charities. We commend President Trump for his courage to stand up for vulnerable children, adoptive families, and those who serve them.  This is a president who acknowledges that faith in God is central to the mission of faith-based adoption providers and the well-being of communities,” Perkins said.

Is this a victory for America’s faith community?

“Under the proposed HHS rule, faith-based adoption providers will no longer have to choose between abandoning their faith or abandoning homeless children because the government disapproves of their views on marriage.”

The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in support of the new rule.

“We commend the Administration for acting to change a 2016 regulation that threatened to shut out faith-based social service providers, namely adoption and foster care agencies that respect a child’s right to a mother and a father. To restrict faith-based organizations’ work by infringing on religious freedom – as the 2016 rule threatened to do – is unfair and serves no one, especially the children in need of these services,” the statement said.

“We are alarmed and saddened that state and local government agencies in multiple jurisdictions have already succeeded in shutting down Catholic adoption and foster care agencies as a result of their Catholic beliefs. At a time when over 400,000 children are in foster care, we need to take steps to increase – not decrease – their opportunities to be placed with safe and loving families. We welcome today’s proposed rule modifications and look forward to reviewing and commenting on them further,” the statement said.

A pro-LGBT group attacked the proposed change, according to Politico.

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The rule “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,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The White House, however, said nothing in the rule bans LGBT individuals from adopting children. It would merely keep organizations from being targeted by the government because of their religious beliefs.

LGBT people can still adopt and that will not change,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said, according to The Hill.

Deere noted that the Obama-era rule went into effect only days before Obama left office in January 2017.

“The Administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities. The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith,” Deere said.

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