Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have tacked an anti-LGBT amendment onto a funding bill, and activists are calling it a “license to discriminate” against same-sex couples who want to become parents.
It's not out of question that Republicans would actually pass a law like the one proposed. Oklahoma and Kansas passed laws this year at the state level that let welfare agencies discriminate against same-sex couples who want to foster or adopt children. In fact, seven states have already passed such legislation, allowing discrimination even when an agency is funded with taxpayer money.
Many anti-LGBT religious groups operate foster-adoption agencies and insist LGBT people are a moral danger to children. Should the bill win approval with the amendment attached, it would allow those child welfare agencies that receive government funds the option to turn away prospective parents by citing religious beliefs.
The committee voted along party lines, 29-23, with Scott Taylor of Virginia the only Republican to vote against the amendment.
Activists warn that the law could come with broad consequences, affecting straight people, too. It could be used to discriminate against interfaith couples, single parents, married couples where one or both prospective parents have been divorced, or any other circumstance that an agency claims violates religious beliefs.
Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned Republicans who helped pass the amendment, which was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama.
“Republicans’ moral bankruptcy reached a sickening new low today," said Pelosi. "House Republicans chose to sacrifice the well-being of little children to push a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda, potentially denying tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home."
Welfare agencies already experience huge obstacles in placing children with prospective parents, with their biggest issue being the challenge to find prospective parents who are qualified. This amendment would lessen the already small pool of qualified prospective parents. Approximately 2 million LGBT Americans are interested in adoption, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and should the proposed amendment become law, this population will remain an untapped resource.
“Any member of Congress who supports this amendment is clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate than it is to find loving homes for children in need,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs at HRC. “Congress should be focusing on ways to help children in the child welfare system find homes rather than creating needless obstacles for prospective parents, effectively shrinking the pool of qualified folks who want to provide children with a loving home. HRC urges Congress to reject this discriminatory amendment in the final appropriations bill.”
A recent HRC report, titled "Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services," recounts studies showing that discriminatory practices are not in the best interest of children, are unnecessary to provide child welfare services, and come at the expense of taxpayers. Research has consistently shown that LGBT kids are overrepresented in the welfare system and are often discriminated against. Human rights experts say the amendment will only further this kind of discrimination.
Pelosi said Democrats will fight the amendment in the House, hoping to stop it from making its way into the final draft of the bill.
“House Democrats will fight this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort with all our strength," said Pelosi. "There is no place for bigotry or discrimination in our foster and adoption systems – or in any part of our democracy."