A proposal introduced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would roll back a requirement that foster care and adoption agencies receiving federal funds may not refuse to place children with same sex couples has prompted a response from Rep. Sharice Davids.
Davids, the first openly gay person to serve as a member of Congress in the state, sent letters to the rest of the Kansas delegation today urging them to contact President Donald Trump to oppose the proposed rule change.
“As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I cannot overstate the material harm this proposed rule would do,” Davids wrote. “Preventing qualified, capable, and loving parents from fostering or adopting children in need of a home based on the parents’ sexual orientation or gender identity is cruel and baseless.”
A release issued by HHS on the proposed rule says it would amount to a reversal of regulatory provisions put in place during the Obama administration.
“HHS would revise two provisions of the 2016 rulemaking to require grantees to comply with applicable nondiscrimination provisions passed by Congress and signed into law, including legislation ensuring the protection of religious liberty, and to provide that HHS complies with all applicable Supreme Court decisions in administering its grant programs,” reads the release. “The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs and address the impact of regulatory actions on small entities.”
The issue being considered at the federal level has recent parallel in state law. In 2018, then-Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a level bill that allowed faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to receive state funding regardless of whether they would consider placing children in the homes of same-sex couples.
Davids issued the following statement on the matter today:
It’s unacceptable that this Administration is proposing a rule allowing foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents, at the expense of the American taxpayer no less.
This is the latest in a long line of attacks against the LGBTQ community from this Administration, but this rule is particularly appalling as it affects our most vulnerable population – our children. Every child deserves a stable, safe and loving home. No child should be denied that home because a parent is a member of the LGBTQ community.
We know firsthand in Kansas what happens when discriminatory adoption legislation is passed. Just last year, the Kansas legislature passed a bill allowing faith-based adoption agencies – including those that receive public funds – to turn away LGBTQ couples based on religious beliefs. Despite the Kansas foster care system already being overwhelmed with children, the legislation was signed into law, further limiting the number of safe and loving homes available to these children. It was wrong then – and it’s wrong now.
That’s why I’ve been a vocal supporter of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation introduced by Rep. John Lewis that improves care and opens more loving, supportive homes to foster youth by banning discrimination against LGBTQ, single, nontheistic and religious minority parents and children in foster care and adoption. The bill also provides resources to states to improve outcomes for LGBTQ foster youth.
It also underlines the importance of the Equality Act, which passed the House in May and is still sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk. This critical legislation would standardize federal policy and put in place national protections from discrimination for members of the LGBTQ community.
I’m calling on the entire Kansas delegation to stand up for children and families in our state – and across the country – and urge the President to prevent this proposed rule from going into effect.
I will not sit silently by while this Administration dismantles protections for LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents. It’s time for this Administration to do right by our children and families and reverse this decision.