Pence praises rule that would let adoption agencies exclude gay parents

The Trump administration's proposed rule would allow adoption agencies that refuse to place children with LGBTQ families to still collect federal dollars.
Image: Vice President Mike Pence listens during a meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2019.
Vice President Mike Pence listens during a meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2019.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file
By Tim Fitzsimons

During an event celebrating National Adoption Month, Vice President Mike Pence praised a proposed Trump administration rule that would allow federal funding to flow to adoption agencies that refuse to place children with LGBTQ families, among others.

"We’ve reversed the rule implemented in the closing days of the last administration that jeopardized the ability of faith-based providers to serve those in need by penalizing them for their deeply held religious beliefs," Pence said at an event Tuesday at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. "We will stand for the freedom of religion and we will stand with faith-based organizations to support adoption."

Pence said he "couldn't be more proud" of the "decisive action" taken at "President Trump's direction" on this issue.

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More than 100,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, according to government data, but a constellation of religious agencies refuse to consider same-sex parents when placing these children. Shortly before the end of his second term, President Barack Obama changed nondiscrimination rules governing adoption agencies to expand the definition of groups protected against discrimination to include LGBTQ people. Trump's proposed rule change will undo that.

“Children should never be denied the opportunity to join a stable, loving family — even if that means the family is LGBTQ,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said when the proposed rule was first published. “Research has shown LGBTQ families provide the same kind of love, protection and support as other families, and no child should be denied that kind of environment.”

Indeed, LGBTQ parents are much more exposed to the adoption and foster care system than straight parents. A 2018 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that 1 in 5 of the estimated 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the United States are raising adopted or foster children — significantly higher than the 3 percent of heterosexual couples doing so.

“Our findings highlight the importance of laws and policies that encourage and support adoption and fostering by same-sex couples,” Shoshana Goldberg, the report's lead author, wrote at the time of its publication. “Without these policies, a qualified population of prospective parents may not have equal access to government-funded child welfare agencies and services.”

The Trump administration's proposed rule was praised by Catholic and evangelical organizations, like the Family Research Council, which “believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.”

The Trump administration has moved, mainly through proposed rule changes that have received little public attention, to allow organizations and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people because of professed strongly-held religious beliefs.

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