September 2018 Chuch & State Magazine - September 2018

AU And Allies Urge Congress To Reject Discriminatory Adoption Amendment

  Liz Hayes

Americans United joined hundreds of civil-rights and child-welfare organizations in late July to urge members of Congress to reject a proposal to allow federally funded adoption and foster-care agencies to use religion to discriminate against prospective parents and children in need.

Republican members of a congressional committee on July 11 tucked the discriminatory language into a routine spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. Known as the Aderholt amendment because it was introduced by U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) with support from U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the provision permits child-welfare agencies that receive federal funding to cite their religious beliefs as justification for refusing to place children in need of stable homes with loving families because prospective parents are LGBTQ, single, previously divorced or don’t practice an agency’s designated religion.

The amendment would also allow agencies to deny assistance to kids in care. An agency could refuse to provide a foster home to an LGBTQ teen, provide necessary health care to a child who has been sexually assaulted or allow a kid in foster care to attend the church of her/his choice.

Despite objections raised during the debate by more than a half-dozen Democratic members, the House committee approved the Aderholt amendment in a 29-23 vote with just one Republican – U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) – opposing it. At Church & State’s press time, the bill had not yet been debated by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to discriminate and no family should be told they are not qualified to serve as foster or adoptive parents because they are LGBTQ or the ‘wrong’ religion by a taxpayer-funded prov­ider,” notes a letter to Congress sent by AU and more than 200 other organizations on July 26. “This amend­ment would allow agencies to use a religious litmus test to determine which families or children to serve, and which services to provide, while still receiving taxpayer dollars.”

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