The House Appropriations Committee adopted a measure that would ensure federal funding for faith-based adoption agencies that object to placing children with same-sex couples.
GOP Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama introduced the measure, which is an amendment to an upcoming funding bill, as a way to curb further discrimination against faith-based adoption agencies. Faith-based adoption agencies have faced massive closures in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., as a result of local laws that make it illegal for adoption and foster care agencies to refuse same-sex couples. (RELATED: Kansas And Oklahoma Defend Religious Adoption Agencies, Pass Bill Allowing Them To Veto LGBT Couples)
“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,” Aderholt said, according to Crux Now.
Aderholt asserted that the current opioid epidemic has caused the number of children entering the foster care system to “skyrocket.” The closure of faith-based adoption agencies has compounded the issue and limited available resources to children and parents.
The amendment to the funding bill dictates that the Department of Health and Human Services will withhold 15 percent of federal funding for child welfare from states that outlaw religious adoption agencies’ refusal to place children with same-sex couples.
Several states, like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, have passed laws to protect faith-based adoption agencies. Rep. Nancy Pelosi lambasted those laws and other such efforts as part of what she called a “bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda” pushed by Republicans. She and other opponents of protections for faith-based adoption and foster care agencies assert that those laws and Aderholt’s amendment will prevent same-sex couples from adopting kids.
Heritage Foundation Research Assistant Melanie Israel said that those protections do nothing of the sort.
“The other side is falsely saying that this prevents LGBT couples from adopting. That’s not true,” Israel told Crux. “They are still welcome to foster and adopt from a plethora of agencies, in particular the state-run agencies, and even some faith-based agencies. Not all faith-based agencies take issue with placing children outside of a home with a married mom and dad.”
Israel argued that protections for religious adoption agencies also helped parents who wished to work with agencies that “share their faith, and their values.”
U.S. Catholic bishops also argued that point when pushing for the adoption of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017.
“Keeping kids first involves protecting the birth mother’s choice to place the child with the family she feels is best,” three bishop chairmen wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Advocates for the amendment and state protections for faith-based adoption agencies also argued that such agencies can provide support to birth-mothers during the adoption process, both spiritually and practically.
“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,” Aderholt said in a statement on his website. “We need more support for these families and children in crisis, not less.”
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