The Biden administration on Thursday said it would repeal religious freedom protections granted to child protection agencies and require them to place children with GLATQ families and people of other faiths.
The move “will increase civil rights and equal opportunity for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and religion,” according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The resignations – given under President Trump to the states of Michigan, South Carolina and Texas and to elect child protection agencies in those states – removed non-discrimination requirements based on religious objections, HHS said.
The agency’s announcement said such waivers are “inconsistent” with the Biden-era HHS department’s “critical goal” of combating discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, ”the announcement stated.
The Trump-era rules, critics have claimed, allowed the child protection agencies to comply with various rules supporting the agency’s particular beliefs.
Greenville, South Carolina-based Miracle Hill Ministries, for example, would only allow evangelical Protestants to work as volunteer mentors or serve as foster parents.
In 2019, Miracle Hill said it will work with Catholic or Orthodox Christian families that match its doctrinal statement, a move that came after a Catholic woman sued President Trump and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster over the resignations.
“Today’s action upholds the fundamental U.S. principle and core mission of our Department – to ensure that Americans have access to quality health and human services,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Thursday.
“Our action ensures that we are best prepared to protect the right of every American to be free from discrimination,” he added.
Rachel Laser, president of the United States for Separation of Church and State, who opposed the resignations, said in a statement that HHS “should never allow taxpayer-funded family nursing agencies to apply a religious test to discriminate against Catholics, Jews, LGBT and LGBT. other families who want to help children who are in foster care. “
Americans United filed the South Carolina lawsuit on behalf of Aimee Maddonna, a Catholic and mother of three who wanted to volunteer at Miracle Hill but was rejected because of her church affiliation.
South Carolina’s resignation has also been challenged by Lambda Legal, a public interest group advocating for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people.
They sued on behalf of same-sex couple Eden Rogers and Brand Welch, whom Miracle Hill also dismissed as possible foster parents.
Lambda Legal cited several other HHS-related rules that they claim are unfavorable to homosexuals, and in a statement said they will continue to oppose these provisions.
“HHS still does not rigorously meet non-discriminatory requirements that are critical to protecting vulnerable GLATQ youth, the elderly and others who need its help,” said Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal. “Our work will continue until every LGBT person can access federally funded services without fear of discrimination.”