WASHINGTON, D.C. — Family Equality Council condemns the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision to allow federally-funded child welfare agencies in South Carolina to discriminate on the basis of religion.
HHS’ decision comes in response to a request made by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster last year, asking the Trump Administration to use the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to waive federal nondiscrimination requirements for federally-funded child placing agencies. The request was triggered by one specific faith-based agency — Miracle Hill Ministries — who wanted to continue to restrict eligibility for foster and adoptive parents to those that meet the agency’s religious litmus test.
Shelbi Day, Senior Policy Counsel at Family Equality Council said:
“HHS’ decision to grant South Carolina’s waiver request allows taxpayer funded discrimination on the backs of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children. Allowing child placing agencies to ignore federal nondiscrimination rules runs counter to the cardinal rule of child welfare: that the best interests of children in care must come first. Allowing child placing agencies to turn away qualified adoptive and foster parents reduces the number of loving families available to the over 4,000 children in South Carolina’s foster care system, and further demonstrates that the Trump administration values a narrow set of religious beliefs over the need to find loving, stable homes for children currently in state care.
“It is more critical than ever that Congress fulfill their oversight responsibility and act to stop the damage that will be caused by this waiver, and the risk that other states may move to request similar waivers. Family Equality Council urges members of Congress to hold oversight hearings, and move to pass the Do No Harm Act to ensure appeals to ‘protecting religious freedom’ cannot be used to harm vulnerable children in the child welfare system.”
Read the letter to South Carolina Governor McMaster from HHS here.
About Family Equality Council
Family Equality Council advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality Council believes every LGBTQ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live. Learn more at familyequality.org.
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Ed Harris / Chief Communications Officer