(CNSNews.com) -- On Nov. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a proposed rule change that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to receive federal funding even though they oppose placing children with same-sex couples. The plan has sparked strong criticism from LGBT activists but was largely applauded by advocates of religious freedom.
“HHS is committed to fully enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress,” a Nov. 1 HHS press release said. “The proposed rule would better align its grants regulations with federal statutes, eliminating regulatory burden, including the 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.”
According to CBN News, under the Obama administration the HHS regulations excluded faith-based adoption agencies from federal grants if they chose, under their personal religious grounds, to not process an adoption for a same-sex couple.
However, according to the HHS those regulations “would likely reduce the effectiveness of programs funded by federal grants by reducing the number of entities available to provide services under these programs.”
“Some non-Federal entities have expressed concerns that requiring compliance with certain non-statutory requirements … violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the HHS Grants Regulation document said.
During the National Prayer Breakfast in February, President Trump said his administration was working “to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”
The conservative nonprofit Family Research Council applauded President Trump and said that, thanks to the proposal by the HHS and the administration, faith-based organizations are “free to care for needy children.”
“Under the proposed HHS rule, faith-based adoption providers will no longer have to choose between abandoning their faith or abandoning homeless children because the government disapproves of their views on marriage,” an FRC press release said.
But the regulation did not come without criticism. The LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit Family Equality Council condemned the new regulation saying it will “allow Foster Care and adoption discrimination.”
“It is outrageous that the Trump administration would mark the start of National Adoption Month by announcing a rule to further limit the pool of loving homes available to America’s 440,000 foster children,” said Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at Family Equality.
“The American public overwhelmingly opposes allowing taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away qualified parents simply because they are in a same-sex relationship,” said Kruse.
According to the pro-LGBT Washington Blade, “an estimated 440,000 children are currently in the foster care system in the United States, and more than 123,000 kids are now available for adoption.”