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House Committee Passes Amendment that Endangers LGBTQ Adoption Rights

A recent vote on an amendment by the House Appropriations Committee would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies and child welfare organizations to refuse service to gay couples based on the organization’s religious beliefs.

While some states, such as Kansas and Oklahoma, have recently passed similar bills at the state level, this would be the first national legislative action against LGBTQ adoption rights. Specifically, this amendment would make it permissible for child welfare providers, such as organizations working in the foster care system, to refuse service to LGBTQ people on the basis of their sexual orientation. The vote passed by a margin of 30-22.

Additionally, the bill would punish states that refuse to offer this protection of religious beliefs. States that support LGBTQ rights would likely push back at the state level, but the amendment includes a 15 percent cut in federal funding for child welfare services for any state who takes such an action.

The language used in the bill protects organizations “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The amendment’s author, GOP Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, was straightforward when translating what this means.

“The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples,” Aderholt told CNN.

There are other groups who could be impacted by this legislation, too. Because some religious organizations believe that divorce is a sin, previously divorced individuals could be refused services on the basis of religious beliefs. The same applies to interfaith couples whose beliefs contradict those of the organization, as well as single-parent households who are unable to provide a traditional two-parent family.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled House Appropriations committee, but it still has several steps left before it turns into law.

Research has shown again and again and again that children raised in loving LGBTQ-households show no signs of different development from children raised by opposite-sex parents. For decades, false ideas about LGBTQ parents supported discrimination against LGBTQ couples in adoption. Recently, that trend has been reversed. This amendment, many say, would be a step in the opposite direction.

“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 the Human Rights Campaign.

In addition to harming LGBTQ couples who dream of growing their family through adoption, an amendment like this neglects research that shows a disproportionate level of youth in foster care are LGBTQ. Because LGBTQ youth are over-represented in the foster care population and LGBTQ parents are more likely to adopt, this amendment ignores the best interests of the children and parents. It cuts in both directions.

You can contact your local representative to express your opinions on this proposed bill. Join us in letting them know that research supports LGBTQ adoption, and that the well-being of children who need families should be the highest priority.