Human Rights Campaign Responds to Biden Administration Postponing Discriminatory Trump-Era HHS Rule Change

by HRC Staff

Post submitted by Viet Tran (he/him/they/them), former HRC Press Secretary

Today, in response to a legal challenge, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed to a court order that will temporarily halt a Trump-era discriminatory rule change that would have permitted 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. HHS says the rule change is under review.

Discrimination should not be allowed in federally-funded programs -- it’s plain and simple. We thank Lambda Legal for their leadership on this lawsuit and commend the Biden administration on taking immediate steps to prioritize the well-being and safety of our communities by halting implementation and undertaking a review of a Trump-era policy that would have endangered access to critical services for LGBTQ people, religious minorities and women. Since even before Day One, it is a welcomed breath of fresh air to see an administration that continues to value and respect us.

Alphonso David., President of the Human Rights Campaign

On January 8, 2021, HRC responded to an 11th hour attack by the lame duck Trump-Pence White House on finalizing a HHS regulation that would have allowed discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities and women.

The rule change was among actions by the Trump administration to grant HHS recipients a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women:

  • In May 2017, the Trump-Pence White House put out an executive order mandating the Department of Justice to work agency by agency to regulatorily create broad exemptions allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate against those who do not agree with their personal beliefs.
  • In January 2019, Trump-Pence’s HHS granted a waiver from federal nondiscrimination requirements to South Carolina’s Foster Care Program, which has contracted with a child welfare provider who seeks permission to refuse to serve prospective parents who do not share their religious beliefs, but who want to continue to receive federal funding to provide those services. South Carolina requested the waiver to allow federal funds to go to a child welfare agency that refused to work with Jewish and Catholic people who were otherwise eligible to support children in need.
  • This continues a pattern of citing court decisions unrelated to nondiscrimination laws to justify stripping away protections for LGBTQ people and others.

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. The regulation would have only exacerbated these challenges faced by LGBTQ young people.

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