Human Rights Campaign president calls new Trump adoption rule a 'blanket license to discriminate'

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David on Thursday ripped a new rule by the Trump administration that would allow some faith-based foster care and adoption groups who receive federal funding to deny their services to LGBT families.

The proposal, which was announced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week, seeks to roll back Obama-era protections that include sexual orientation under its definition of discrimination, citing concerns about religious freedom.

David argued in an appearance on Hill.TV that the proposed rule would give these groups a “blanket license to discriminate.”

“If you are providing a service to the public, you can’t allow these agencies to be essentially discriminating against same-sex couples or discriminating against women,” he said on “Rising.”

“What this rule will allow these agencies to do is to discriminate in a blanket fashion,” he added. “It’s essentially saying, ‘I’m not going to allow adoption-related services to any families unless they’re Christian-based families.’ ”

David maintained that the current system is effective and should not be dismantled, noting that faith-based groups already have an option to apply for waivers to opt-out of providing services to certain groups if they are able to justify they’re reasoning behind such a move.

“The waiver process works now,” he said. “If a religious organization claims they need to receive a waiver in order to provide a certain service, the federal government allows that waiver,” he said, adding that it forces these organizations to justify why they need the waiver.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere declined to comment on David's remarks, saying he had nothing to add to previous comments. 

“LGBT people can still adopt and that will not change,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told The Hill last Saturday.

HHS Press Secretary Katie McKeogh responded to David's comments by pointing to a previous press release, saying the department is "committed to fully enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress."

"The proposed rule would better align its grants regulations with federal statutes, eliminating regulatory burden, including burden on the free exercise of religion. HHS is affirming that it will comply with all applicable Supreme Court decisions in administering its grants programs," the statement reads.

This is not the first time David has spoken out against the rule. Shortly after the rule was announced, he issued a statement calling the proposal “horrific,” saying it would “permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding.”

“The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people and other communities,” he wrote.

Some conservative groups, meanwhile, have praised the proposal.

The Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group, called it “tremendous news for children, birth moms, and adoptive families.”

— Tess Bonn