House panel moves to protect 'religious conviction' of adoption agencies

House panel moves to protect 'religious conviction' of adoption agencies
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The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday adopted a GOP funding bill amendment that would ensure adoption agencies aren’t denied federal funding if they choose not to place children with LGBTQ couples.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtLobbying world The Hill's Coronavirus Report: WHO vs. Trump; Bernie's out Bottom line MORE, drew swift condemnation from Democrats, but the Alabama Republican defended it as necessary for allowing social-services agencies to exercise their religious freedom.


"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. The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples," he said in a statement.

Under the “minibus” funding bill amendment, the Department of Health and Human Services would be required to withhold 15 percent of federal funding for child welfare services from states that themselves withhold funding for organizations that require children be placed with heterosexual married couples. 

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Calif.) accused Republicans of reaching "a sickening new low" with the measure.

"House Republicans chose to sacrifice the well-being of little children to push a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda, potentially denying tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home," she said in a statement, vowing to push back against the move. 

“House Democrats will fight this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort with all our strength. There is no place for bigotry or discrimination in our foster and adoption systems – or in any part of our democracy,” she said.

The conservative group Heritage Action applauded the amendment, calling it a “victory for children and faith-based organizations across the country.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, however, said in a statement to the Washington Blade that it “strongly opposes the amendment because it essentially privileges the religious and moral beliefs of providers over the best interest of children who are in their care.”