With more than a week remaining for the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services has finalized a rule that allows social-service providers who are government-wide to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity Receive money.
Critics claim that the new guidance could have broader implications for agencies that address adoption and foster care, as well as homelessness, HIV prevention, elder care, and other public services.
Senior advocate for LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, Sasha Butchart said, “Despite Trump administration officials leaving the ship, HHS has announced yet another dangerous rule that invites discrimination for federal grant programs.” “
According to a 77-page release published Tuesday in the Federal Register, Obama-era requirements that agencies avoid discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity and that same-sex marriage is legally valid They violate religious freedom. Restoration Act.
“Given the meticulous balance of rights, obligations, and goals in public-private participation in federal grant programs, the Department believes it is appropriate to apply only those non-discrimination requirements required by the Constitution and federal statutes,” in the rule. Having said.
The February 11 rule change is targeted at child welfare organizations, according to Julie Kruse, director of federal policy for family equality, an LGBTQ advocacy group. Can private adoption agencies receiving taxpayers’ money refuse services to same-potential parents, Falton v. City of Philadelphia, before the Supreme Court.
Kruse said both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have allowed prioritization of discrimination in adoption and upbringing over the past four years.
At the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2019, Trump said that St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Michigan were facing legal action to “live by the values of the Catholic faith” and to overcome same-sex prospective parents. The president swore that his administration was “working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies can help vulnerable children locate their forever families, while adhering to their deepest beliefs Happened. “
In the same year, HHS issued a waiver allowing the Protestant Foster Care Agency to remove Jewish foster parents and stop data collection on LGBTQ youth in adoption and foster care.
In November 2019, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that the agency would stop implementing anti-discrimination protections against federal grants, a lawsuit by Lambda Legal and Democracy Forward on behalf of LGBTQ social service groups Family Equality, True Colors United and SAGE Will be filed HHS has ordered employees to accept job duties to recipients of federal funding to accept religious duties, including denial of contraception to women and medical treatment to transgender patients.
According to Kruse, Tuesday’s final rule could allow a homeless shelter to close a queued teenager and a senior center that could refuse an elderly gay man to his doctor’s appointment. He is confident that it will be overturned by the incoming Biden administration, calling it “a bad farewell shot that will not stand.” But she admits that “it stops work; It protects against delay. “
The HHS coordinated nine federal agencies with the Trump administration to prepare guidelines to protect “religious freedom” with the Departments of the US Agency for Justice, Education, Labor, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security and International Development. Was among .
Those orders exited the White House Trust and Opportunity initiative launched in 2018, “to remove barriers that have unfairly prevented faith-based organizations from receiving or receiving funds from the federal government.” “
The Department of Education issued its final rule in September last year, exempting religious universities and student groups from the sex-discriminatory statute in Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment. Then Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had said to “protect the First Amendment” on campus and religious freedom of faith-based institutions. “
Dena Sher is Associate Vice President of Public Policy at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Doe Guidance “Discrimination Written by Tax Dollars and Tuition Fees,” Inside Higher Aid reported.
The HHS regulation change was announced on the same day the Labor Department’s own final rule went into effect, extending the exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 for any contractor – for profit or not-for-profit – who put himself in front of the public. A religious purpose
Labor secretary Eugene Scalia said in a statement on 7 December, “Religious organizations should not be afraid that they will have to give up their religious character or identity in order to get a federal contract or acceptance of the subcontinent.”
President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team declined to comment on whether it would overturn the new HHS rule. But, in a statement, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Vowed to work with the incoming administration “to restore humanity to HHS”.
A member of the Senate Finance Committee, Whedon said, “From Day One, the Trump administration is determined to provide the necessary protections for LGBTQ + Americans, religious minorities and other vulnerable communities.”
“It’s no surprise that the Trump administration, in its last days, has given a devastating blow to permanently trying taxpayer-funded discrimination and put the health and well-being of children and families across the country at grave risk Is, “he said.
Follow nbc out Twitter, Facebook and Instagram