Parting Gift: HHS Axes Protections Against Discrimination for LGBTQ+ Couples Looking to Adopt

Parting Gift: HHS Axes Protections Against Discrimination for LGBTQ+ Couples Looking to Adopt

Written on 01/13/2021
Rachel Masloske

As America nears the last week under the Trump administration, a new rule allows adoption agencies can discriminate against same-sex parents. 

What We Know: 

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has finalized a rule that allows government-funded social-service providers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This would include adoption agencies and qualified same-sex couples. 
  • In an NBC News report, the implications of the rule could affect public services. Some of the agencies affected being, adoption, foster-parenting, homelessness, HIV prevention, elder care, and other public services.
  • Sasha Buchert, senior attorney for the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, spoke on the new rule. “Even as Trump administration officials abandon ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination against the very people federal grant programs are meant to help.”
  • The Department of Health and Human Services rule states, “Given the careful balancing of rights, obligations, and goals in the public-private partnerships in federal grant programs, the Department believes it appropriate to impose only those nondiscrimination requirements required by the Constitution and federal statutes.” The rule will take effect on February 11th. 
  • Julie Kruse, director of federal policy for LGBTQ advocacy group Family Equality, believes the ruling targets child welfare organizations. Additionally, Kruse stated that Trump and Pence made discrimination in adoption and foster care a priority in their administration. 
  • In February 2019, St. Vincent Catholic Charities faced legal attention after refusing to place children in LGBTQ homes. Trump exclaimed that the charity was “working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies can help vulnerable children find their forever families.” Defending that the charity was “living by the values of its Catholic faith.”
  • Additionally, HHS issued a waiver allowing Jewish foster parents to be turned away and stopped data collection on LGBTQ youth in adoption and foster care. Alex Azar HHS Secretary announced in November of 2019 that the agency would no longer enforce anti-discrimination protections against federal grantees. 
  • The HHS was among nine federal agencies asked by Trump to draft guidelines safeguarding religious freedom. The Department of Justice, Education, Labor, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development were the others.

Kruse is sure that the Biden administration will overturn the new rule, but it will slow down other priorities. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to reverse the HHS rule.