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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration announced Friday that it will not be enforcing Obama-era rules forcing faith-based adoption and foster agencies to place children in same-sex households, and proposed new rules specifically recognizing the religious and conscience rights of such organizations.

Whereas the Obama administration added “sexual orientation” language to “non-discrimination” rules governing federal funds to adoption and foster agencies, the Trump Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will be replacing it with a new rule that retains most of the old rule’s non-controversial langauge. However, it will revise certain provisions to bring them in line with “applicable nondiscrimination provisions passed by Congress and signed into law, including legislation ensuring the protection of religious liberty, and to provide that HHS complies with all applicable Supreme Court decisions in administering its grant programs.”

“The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration's strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions,” HHS said. “These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs and address the impact of regulatory actions on small entities.”

Religious and conservative groups praised the move as a fulfilment of President Donald Trump’s commitment to religious liberty.

“We commend the Administration for acting to change a 2016 regulation that threatened to shut out faith-based social service providers, namely adoption and foster care agencies that respect a child’s right to a mother and a father,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement. “We are alarmed and saddened that state and local government agencies in multiple jurisdictions have already succeeded in shutting down Catholic adoption and foster care agencies as a result of their Catholic beliefs. At a time when over 400,000 children are in foster care, we need to take steps to increase – not decrease – their opportunities to be placed with safe and loving families.”

“The proposed HHS rule frees faith-based adoption and foster care groups participating in programs that receive federal grants from the prior administration’s demand they include sexual orientation as a protected trait under anti-discrimination protections,”said Catholic Association Foundation legal advisor Andrea Picciotti-Bayer. “This demand, made in the waning days of the Obama administration with no legislative or judicial mandate, limits the good done for needy kids by faith-based agencies because of their longstanding beliefs about marriage. Agencies that find loving foster and adoptive homes shouldn’t be subject to ideological shakedowns by the government.”

“Until recently, the idea of the government assisting these groups in their work was completely uncontroversial,” American Principles Project executive director Terry Schilling said. “Incredibly, however, states and localities like Michigan and Philadelphia have lately begun to demand these groups violate their consciences or lose all support, as did the Obama administration. Amid a nationwide foster care crisis, this ideological grandstanding is utterly unconscionable. Thankfully, from day one President Trump has committed to put the needs of children and the protection of religious liberty above politics.”

A variety of social science literature supports the view that children are best served by homes with both a mother and a father, as men and women bring distinct strengths and emphases to parenting, and children require guardians and role models of both sexes for development and socialization. Furthermore, numerous individuals raised in same-sex homes have attested that the experience was harmful.

Last year, House Republicans introduced legislation that also would have also prevented religious groups from losing federal funds solely because they refuse to place children in same-sex homes.