Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02) recently issued a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in response to his department’s decision to allow a South Carolina foster-care agency to refuse housing children with same-sex couples.
In January, Azar granted a waiver to Miracle Hill Ministries, a Christian agency that requires foster parents to be Christian and of the opposite sex. President Donald Trump said during last week’s National Prayer Breakfast that his administration would continue to provide agencies such as Miracle Hill Ministries with federal funding so that they can “help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”
Craig and fellow LGBTQ colleague Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY-18) sent a letter to Azar on February 13 to protest his decision.
“We write to you to express strong opposition to a waiver you department granted to South Carolina from nondiscrimination requirements for its state-contracted child welfare agencies,” the letter begins. “This harmful decision allows federally-funded child welfare agencies in South Carolina to discriminate on the basis of religion—an egregious violation of the very principles our nation and our child welfare system were founded upon.”
The letter was co-signed by 95 House members, and concludes by suggesting that “this reprehensible decision demonstrates that extremists within the Trump administration value a narrow set of religious beliefs over the need to find loving, stable homes for children currently in state care.”
As a mother who faced adoption challenges decades ago, I can’t allow Sec. Azar to turn away prospective parents on the basis of an agency’s religious litmus test. LGBT Caucus Co-Chair’s @RepSeanMaloney and @RepKatieHill and I sent a letter urging him to reconsider his decision. pic.twitter.com/6dauyX0ZqH
— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) February 13, 2019
“We strongly urge you to stop this despicable taxpayer-funded discrimination and uphold the essential nondiscrimination protections that ensure that every child has a loving home,” the letter states.
In a Wednesday press release, Craig said that “as a mother who faced adoption challenges decades ago,” she cannot “stand by and allow this decision to proceed unchecked.”
“Turning away prospective parents on the basis of an agency’s religious litmus test is harmful to families, to children, and to religious minorities and the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, took issue with the decision because it presumes “there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ religion,” which is “exactly the type of religious favoritism the Establishment Clause prohibits.”
“Congress cannot stand idly by as foster youth, people of different faiths, and LGBTQ prospective parents bear the burden of state-sponsored discrimination,” he added.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) was the only other member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation to sign the letter.
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