We all loved “The Fosters,” but, in the real world, lesbians are being turned away from being foster parents. Married lesbian couple Eden Rogers and Brandy Welch are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the state of South Carolina after being turned away by a government-funded foster care agency for failing to meet the agency’s religious requirements, which exclude same-sex couples. The lawsuit, which was brought by Lambda Legal, the ACLU, ACLU of South Carolina, and South Carolina Equality Coalition argues that HHS and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster are violating the Establishment, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution by allowing religious criteria to deny LGBTQ families the opportunity to foster children.
Miracle Hill Ministries, South Carolina’s largest state-contracted foster care agency, denied Ms. Rogers’ and Ms. Welch’s application to foster children after HHS granted South Carolina a waiver of federal nondiscrimination rules, allowing the agency to discriminate against the couple. The lawsuit says that this waiver allows the organization and South Carolina to discriminate against LGBTQ people and people of varying faiths.
“We work hard to raise our own two girls in a loving and stable home. Faith is a part of our family life, so it is hurtful and insulting to us that Miracle Hill’s religious view of what a family must look like deprives foster children of a nurturing, supportive home,” Welch said in a statement.
Welch works in an accounting firm as a cost engineer, and Rogers is an educator. The couple is the parents of two daughters, ages 7 and 10, and they are dedicated to being foster parents.
“After family challenges, I helped raise my siblings. I know firsthand the fear and stress that children feel when they are forced to leave their homes,” Eden said in a statement. “As a mother and an educator, I want to make sure children in foster care have a safe, supportive, and loving home when they need one.”
“There is simply no place for discrimination in our state’s foster care system,” said Jeff Ayers, Executive Director of South Carolina Equality, in a statement. “South Carolina’s vulnerable children need loving families ready to give them loving homes. LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples across South Carolina are those families, ready and able to provide those homes, and they should never be turned away just because they do not meet a foster care agency’s religious standards.”