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'License to Discriminate' Bill Passed by House Committee

Homophobia has apparently reared its ugly head in the House Appropriations Committee, where Republicans pushed through an amendment allowing child welfare agencies that receive federal funding to turn away qualified prospective parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs.

The amendment was included in a funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and if it remains in the final bill, would grant a “license to discriminate” in the provision of child welfare services.

According to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the amendment, was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), who said he wanted to protect organizations that, "based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples."

"The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these (state) governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions," he said.

HRC and opponents of the proposal contend it would have a sweeping, harmful impact in child welfare services by permitting discrimination against LGBTQ people, same-sex couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other qualified parents to whom an agency has an objection.

The biggest barrier to placing children with families, said the HRC, is a lack of qualified prospective parents. "Having the government give contractors and subcontractors a license to discriminate, thereby limiting the pool of prospective parents for no legitimate reason, is unconscionable and an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars."

HRC recently released a report, "Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services," detailing the harms of efforts to write anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies into law.

According to the organization, an estimated 2 million LGBTQ adults in the U.S. are interested in adoption, while upwards of 100,000 children are unable to be placed with adoptive parents.

Meanwhile, HRC points out that research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many have been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBTQ status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care.

"This type of amendment will only exacerbate these challenges faced by LGBTQ young people," HRC said.

If the amendment passed by the Committee is of concern to you, consider signing this petition calling on Congress not to discriminate against LGBTQ families.

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