President Donald Trump struck another blow against religious freedom, LGBTQ rights, equality and simple decency on Friday. Bowing once again to his Christian nationalist allies, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new rule that will repeal key nondiscrimination provisions across all agency programs.
The rule is being interpreted in the media mainly as an attempt to allow taxpayer-supported adoption and foster care agencies that are religious in nature to refuse to work with people who fail to meet a strict religious litmus test, chiefly members of the LGBTQ community.
It does that, which is bad enough, but the rule does much more because it affects all HHS programs. HHS is a sprawling agency that sponsors more than 100 programs, dealing with issues such as homelessness, senior care, refugee resettlement, public health and emergency housing. Potentially millions of Americans could be harmed if they are denied critical services because of this reckless rule.
Americans United was quick to condemn the proposal.
“This proposed rule marks a new low in the Trump administration’s efforts to license discrimination against religious minorities and LGBTQ people,” said Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser in a statement to the media. “The rule would directly and gravely harm some of our nation’s most vulnerable people – children in foster care, senior citizens and youth experiencing homelessness. When it comes to discrimination based on religion, the Trump administration is saying it’s OK to ignore the Constitution. It’s never OK and we will continue to fight to uphold our core American value of religious freedom.”
Remember, Americans United is already in federal court challenging a waiver that promotes discrimination that HHS granted to an evangelical foster care agency in South Carolina. That agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, receives taxpayer funds but has refused to work with Jews, Catholics, atheists and others – even though those people are willing to provide loving assistance to children in need. The new HHS rule threatens to take that misguided discriminatory policy nationwide and extend it to a host of other programs.
Be assured that Americans United will oppose every dangerous Trump policy that abuses the vital principle of religious freedom by treating it like a license to discriminate against others and relegate them to second-class status. We’d love to have your help!