Congress Nixes License to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Adoptive and Foster Parents

“No qualified adoptive and foster care parent should be discriminated against, period.”

LGBTQ couples who want to adopt or foster children—specifically, same-gender couples—just dodged a bullet.

Religious groups can’t use federal funding to deny our adoption rights, says Congress | Photo by iStock

Last week, while our eyes were glued to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing and the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress (surprisingly) did something good.

The Senate and House of Representatives removed an amendment to a federal funding bill, proposed in July, that would have allowed religious organizations to deny adoption rights to same-sex couples. The amendment put forth by U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama 4th Congressional District, would have granted a license to discriminate to religious groups that seek to operate child welfare services. Aderholt is the co-chairperson of the House Coalition on Adoption.

“(S)everal states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services, to operate child welfare agencies,” Aderholt stated in a press release on July 11, just after introducing the amendment. “The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples.”

“The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions, and furthermore, it would require the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities that discriminate against these agencies.”

Although Aderholt’s amendment was initially approved by the House Appropriations Committee, it was removed from the final version of the appropriations bill (FY19) to which it was attached. The final bill, already passed by the Senate, was passed by the House on Wednesday.

After the final vote, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D–CT), Ranking Member on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said:

“I was proud to fight to ensure that the Aderholt amendment—which would have inserted bigotry and discrimination into our foster care and adoption systems—was removed from this year’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill. Children deserve to live in safe, happy, and healthy permanent homes, and their best interests should always be placed first. No qualified adoptive and foster care parent should be discriminated against, period.”