Family Equality Urges Senators to Vote No on Confirmation of Elizabeth Darling to Serve as Commissioner on Children, Youth and Families

Darling Must Commit To Ending Discriminatory Policies at HHS Before Confirmation Can Be Allowed to Move Forward  

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Family Equality calls on Senators to vote “no” on the confirmation of Elizabeth Darling to serve as Commissioner on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Family Equality opposes the nomination because, to date, Darling has not affirmed that she would reverse discriminatory HHS child welfare policies and that she is committed to protecting vulnerable youth from discrimination in the child welfare system. Until Elizabeth Darling is able to provide these assurances, Family Equality will urge Senators to oppose her confirmation.

“The Commissioner will play a major role in determining whether the agency continues to break the cardinal rule of child welfare, which is to always act in the best interests of the child,” said Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer at Family Equality. “Family Equality urges Senators to oppose any nominee — including Elizabeth Darling — who would allow taxpayer-funded child placing agencies to prioritize discrimination over promoting the wellbeing, safety, and permanency of youth in foster care, as required by numerous child welfare statutes.”

The Commissioner oversees the Children’s Bureau at HHS, which carries out, funds, and oversees federally-funded adoption and foster care services. Recently under the Trump Administration, HHS has taken horrific actions that harm religious minority, LGBTQ+, and tribal youth, adults, and families, including:

  • Issuing a waiver on January 23, 2019 to South Carolina allowing Miracle Hill Ministries (MHM) and other taxpayer-funded faith-based foster care agencies to continue to turn away foster parents and mentors of any faith other than the particular Protestant Christianity MHM follows. 43 Senators, over 100 U.S. Representatives, and more than 120 child welfare, faith, and LGBTQ groups spoke out in opposition of this action. Denying these services unconstitutionally harms not only those adults and families turned away, but, critically, all foster children served by these agencies whose placement with a foster family is denied or delayed.  The denials particularly harm children of minority faiths who may not receive a placement affirming their faith, contrary to HHS’ own guidelines.  They also harm the over 1 in 5 foster youth who identify as LGBTQ, as all foster parents at MHM must sign that they agree with a doctrinal statement which states that marriage is between a man and a woman and that gender is immutable.
  • Issuing a rulemaking proposal that threatened to take sexual orientation and Indian Child Welfare Act data out of its AFCARS adoption and foster care reporting system. 80 organizations immediately signed on in opposition.
  • Planning to allow taxpayer-funded faith-based foster care and adoption agencies across the U.S. to turn away qualified same-sex couples applying to be parents, according to information senior Trump administration officials leaked to the press on May 29..  Such action would deprive America’s 443,000 foster children urgently needed foster and adoptive families, as same-sex couples are seven times more likely to foster and seven times more likely to adopt than their opposite-sex counterparts. 

About Family Equality

Family Equality 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 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

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Media Contact:Ed Harris, Chief Communications Officer, Family Equality Council
646-880-3005 x117  /