WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Republican-dominated U.S. House committee has approved an amendment to a Labor and HHS spending bill that would prevent religious adoption agencies receiving taxpayer money from being forced to violate their beliefs by placing children with same-sex couples.
While many see this as a step toward preserving religious liberty and ensuring the welfare of children, Democrats and LGBT activists are furious with the amendment's passage, calling it a “license to discriminate.”
The amendment addresses “two serious problems currently facing our nation,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, who introduced the amendment.
“First, the current opioid epidemic has caused the number of children in foster care across America to skyrocket,” said Aderholt.
The congressman noted that his home state of Alabama has seen a 30 percent increase in just the last four years: “These are children who are in desperate need of finding forever families.”
“Secondly, several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services, to operate child welfare agencies,” said Aderholt. “The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples.”
“The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” added Aderholt. “Furthermore, it would require the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities that discriminate against these agencies.”
The measure passed the House committee 29-23, with all Democrats voting against the amendment and all but one Republican voting for it.
Capitol Hill liberals and pro-LGBT Washington, D.C. lobbying groups issued visceral responses.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the amendment represents “a sickening new low,” calling the measure an act of bigotry and a “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort.”
A representative of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said, “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.”
The HRC statement continued:
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.
Interestingly, “shrinking the pool of qualified folks” has occurred precisely because Christian agencies have been forced to shut down their child welfare operations due to stringent state laws requiring them to place kids with gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples.
Rep. Aderholt explained, “As co-chairman of the House Coalition on Adoption, my goal was straightforward: to encourage states to include all experienced and licensed child welfare agencies so that children are placed in caring, loving homes where they can thrive. We need more support for these families and children in crisis, not less.”
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the amendment “good news for children, birth moms and adoptive families.”
“It’s sad that this amendment is necessary but faith-based adoption and foster care providers are facing increasing discrimination by state and local governments,” said Perkins. “The federal government must not do the same, and should not fund states who engage in this discriminatory action.”
“Faith-based child welfare service providers have played a major role in serving our nation’s orphaned and needy children since America’s founding,” continued Perkins. “Today, faith-based child welfare service providers provide invaluable support to overextended, financially-strapped social service agencies. They recruit adoptive and foster parents, provide ongoing support for newly-formed families, focus on at-risk and special needs children, and create innovative approaches to building community support for adoption and foster care.”