The Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) on Friday publicized a rule that will allow
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
among federal grantees, which includes adoption agencies.
The new rule undoes an Obama-era policy
that went into effect in December 2016.
The Family Equality Council was among
the first to criticize the administration.
“The American public overwhelmingly
opposes allowing taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to
turn away qualified parents simply because they are in a same-sex
relationship,” Julie Kruse, the group's director, said in a
LGBT law group Lambda Legal pointed out
that the proposed rule change would have far-reaching consequences.
“HHS is charged with protecting the
health and wellbeing of all people, but its actions today demonstrate
once again its complete disregard for its mission,” said Sharon
McGowan, Lambda Legal's chief strategy officer and legal director.
“Today’s proposed rule rolls back critical protections against
discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender
identity and religion, and in doing so, puts at risk some of the most
vulnerable members of our communities, including LGBT people who are
poor or experiencing homelessness; LGBT seniors and LGBT youth in
out-of-home care, including foster children in need of loving
families, people living with HIV, and many others.”
“Furthermore, HHS’s announcement
that it will immediately cease enforcement of existing
nondiscrimination protections, rather than adhering to the
established procedures for changing regulations such as these, once
again demonstrates the Trump administration’s utter disregard for
the rule of law,” she added.
New York Representative Jerrold Nadler,
a Democrat and the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized
the new rule and called for passage of the Equality Act, a federal
LGBT protections bill that cleared the House earlier this year.
“It is time for Majority Leader
[Mitch] McConnell to bring this bill up for a vote in the Senate to
respond to the Administration's continued attacks on LGBTQ people,
women, and religious minorities,” said Nadler, a supporter of LGBT
Earlier this year, HHS granted South
Carolina a waiver to the Obama policy.
In a statement, the White House denied
that the rule change would prohibit LGBT people from adopting.
“The President is in no way
undermining his promise [to protect LGBT people] or preventing LGBT
people from adopting,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd
Deere said. “LGBT people can still adopt and that will not change.
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.”