Pauly Pagenhart

Outgoing Administration’s Parting Shots at LGBTQ+ Families


Under cover of chaotic transition, HHS eliminates nondiscrimination protections, even as SCOTUS weighs religious exemption laws’ abuse as cover for anti-LGBTQ discrimination

SAN FRANCISCO – In the alarming, chaotic days of the Trump Administration, Our Family Coalition (OFC) remains vigilant, joining the calls to condemn the Department of Health and Human Services’ last-minute and discriminatory rule change striking down anti-LGBT+ discrimination protections in federally-funded adoption and health services. Eradicating health and human service anti-discrimination protections is anti-family and undemocratic any time, but it’s unconscionable during a lethal pandemic, when many of these services are life-saving and life-sustaining.

This eleventh-hour rule change can and must be overturned by the incoming Biden-Harris Administration, which has pledged to immediately reverse the discriminatory actions of the Trump-Pence Administration. The incoming Biden-Harris Administration has also pledged to pass the Equality Act within its first 100 days; if passed, this act would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. Child welfare agencies would be prohibited from considering prospective parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex when making placement decisions; likewise the Equality Act would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ youth by such service providers. 

“Now is the time to ramp up, not ease off on our vigilance. When the Biden-Harris Administration begins its work next week, we are determined to ensure that the protection of LGBTQ+ people and our families under law is not only restored, but expanded,” said OFC’s Executive Director Mimi Demissew. 

The incoming administration’s determination and dispatch in protecting LGBTQ+ families is all the more urgent, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The impact of this ruling cannot be overstated: LGBTQ+ prospective parents would be either legally protected or legally prohibited from adopting children from any foster care or adoption agency which chooses to claim religious grounds for discrimination. 

Demmissew added, “Our community has lasted this long not just because we know how to resist injustice, but because we also call on our allies to act when they must. And now is surely that time.”  

For more about the HHS Rule change, from the Washington Blade, January 8, 2021 : “Amid coup chaos, Trump quietly erases LGBTQ protections in adoption, health services”

The Equality Act passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 236-173 in May of 2019. It stalled under Mitch McConnell’s Republican control of the Senate, but the incoming Biden-Harris Administration has pledged to ensure its swift passage within the first 100 days. More about it at Human Rights Campaign’s site for it here.

This PDF provides a basic overview of the Equality Act. How does the Equality Act impact child welfare providers? This PDF explains in detail.  

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