Thursday, July 12, 2018

House Committee Approves Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Language

Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama

The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment which would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny LGBTQ families the ability to adopt a child based on religious objection.

By a vote of 29-23, the committee approved the amendment to a government funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The amendment would allow child welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective parents, including same-sex couples, based on the agency’s religious beliefs.

U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) was the lone Republican to oppose the amendment. All Democrats on the committee voted against the language.

From Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade:

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would bar the federal government and state or localities from denying funds to adoption agencies that have “declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs of convictions.”

The measure would empower the secretary of health and human services to withhold 15 percent of federal government funds from state and localities if they penalize adoption agencies for acting on their religious beliefs in terms of child placement.

The amendment mirrors new laws in several states allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement into homes, including LGBT households, over religious objections. Currently, nine states - Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas - have adopted similar policies.

In a statement to The Washington Blade, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, Ian Thompson, denounced the amendment on the basis it would anti-LGBT discrimination.

“The ACLU strongly opposes the amendment because it essentially privileges the religious and moral beliefs of providers over the best interest of children who are in their care,” said Thompson.

Thankfully, there’s a strong possibility the amendment won’t survive the legislative process. The corresponding Senate committee has already approved its version of the bill without the anti-LGBTQ amendment. This means the two bills will have to be hashed out in conference between the two chambers and experts feel the amendment would most likely be stripped out.

The Democratic National Committee’s LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta issued this statement:

“House Republicans are pandering to their far-right base at the expense of LGBTQ people and children in need of a home. Rather than focusing on empowering families or uniting children with their parents, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee voted to give child welfare agencies a license to discriminate against qualified potential parents.

“Across the country, LGBTQ candidates are running for office and taking a stand against the Trump-GOP agenda, which seeks to roll back the progress we have made. In November, voters will stand together in the face of this bigotry and hate and elect Democrats up and down the ticket.”

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