Today, HRC blasted House Republicans on the Appropriations Committee for adopting a discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ amendment to a funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. If it remains in the final bill, the amendment would grant a “license to discriminate” in the provision of child welfare services, allowing child welfare placing agencies that receive federal government funding to turn away qualified prospective parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The vote in the committee was 29-23, along party lines, with Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) the lone Republican to vote against the amendment.
This amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), would have a sweeping, harmful impact in child welfare services by enabling discrimination against LGBTQ people, same-sex couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other qualified parents to whom an agency has an objection. The biggest barrier to placing children with families is a lack of qualified prospective parents; having the government give contractors and subcontractors a license to discriminate, thereby limiting the pool of prospective parents for no legitimate reason, is unconscionable and an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars.
“Any Member of Congress who supports this amendment is clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate than it is to find loving homes for children in need,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “Congress should be focusing on ways to help children in the child welfare system find homes rather than creating needless obstacles for prospective parents, effectively shrinking the pool of qualified folks who want to provide children with a loving home. HRC urges Congress to reject this discriminatory amendment in the final appropriations bill.”
HRC recently released a report, titled Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services, detailing the harms of efforts to write anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies into law. Statistics suggest that an estimated two million LGBTQ adults in the U.S. are interested in adoption, but the LGBTQ community often remains an untapped resource when it comes to finding families for children and youth in foster care.
Research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many have been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBTQ status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care. This type of amendment will only exacerbate these challenges faced by LGBTQ young people.