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Trump admin to allow adoption agencies to refuse placement in LGBT homes

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HHS under President Trump has proposed a rule allowing adoption agencies to refuse placement in LGBT homes.

The Trump administration is moving forward with a proposed regulation that will allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBT families over religious objections.

The Department of Health & Human Services went public on Friday with the regulation, which will undo an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation among federal grantees.

The proposed regulation, which will have far-reaching implications, was immediately was criticized by LGBT rights supporters.

Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at Family Equality Council, said in a statement the policy was “outrageous,” especially at the start of National Adoption Month.

“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,” Kruse said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in statement the regulation would also allow anti-trans discrimination in health care.

“This rule is an abuse of taxpayer dollars in the name of empowering hatred and bigotry towards society’s most vulnerable members,” Keisling said. “Stigma and prejudice are fueling a public health crisis among transgender people across the country, one that manifests itself as suicide, addiction, intimate partner violence and HIV. Enabling providers of life-saving services to worsen these crises by rejecting transgender people is a moral crime and a severe abdication of HHS’s mission to preserve public health.”

According to NCTE, the rule will allow anti-trans discrimination in HIV and STI prevention programs, opioid programs, youth homelessness services, health professional training, substance-use recovery programs and other life-saving services.

The proposal seeks to gut an Obama-era rule that barred entities receiving money under federal contracts, including adoption agencies, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

As the new proposed notes, HHS has already granted an exemption from the Obama-era rule to South Carolina, which sought to get out of the regulation on behalf of the Miracle Hill Ministries adoption agency.

The rule seeks to justify itself by saying the Obama-era regulations aren’t based on statute and religious-affiliated groups have complained and filed lawsuits over meeting those requirements. These groups, HHS noted, assert the policy is unlawful under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.

“The existence of these complaints and legal actions indicates [the Obama-era rule] imposed regulatory burden and created a lack of predictability and stability for the department and stakeholders with respect to these provisions’ viability and enforcement,” the rule says.

It’s true the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in federal programs, has no language against either sex discrimination or anti-LGBT discrimination. The Obama-era rule, therefore, is more than an expanded interpretation of discrimination based on sex as defined under the law to include anti-LGBT discrimination.

The proposed rule also relays reports religious-affiliated agencies will cease to provide services altogether if forced to comply with the Obama-era rule, which HHS concludes “would likely reduce the effectiveness of programs funded by federal grants by reducing the number of entities available to provide services under these programs.”

In recent years, Catholic adoption agencies have closed in Massachusetts, Illinois and D.C., citing new laws that bar anti-LGBT discrimination and allow same-sex couples to marry. Those decisions pre-dated the Obama-era rule, but show the extent these agencies are willing to go to deny placement into LGBT homes.

Religious-affiliated agencies have also challenged the Obama-era rule in court. Just last month, a federal judge in Michigan ruled in favor of St. Vincent, a Lansing-based adoption agency that sued both the state and federal government to allow it to refuse to certify LGBT homes for adoption.

As a result, the Trump administration proposal seeks an amendment to the Obama-era regulation with the following language to give federal grantee more leeway — including the ability to discriminate against LGBT people — in the services they provide:

“It is a public policy requirement of HHS that no person otherwise eligible will be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in the administration of HHS programs and services, to the extent doing so is prohibited by federal statute,” the language says.

The new regulation was expected. In May, Axios reported the Trump administration was planning to implement a rule to allow adoption agencies to reject same-sex parents.

In a speech on the National Day of Prayer in February, President Trump expressed solidarity with religious affiliated agencies seeking to place children into homes consistent with their religious beliefs, even if that means denying placement into LGBT families.

“My administration is working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs,” Trump said.

The Washington Blade has placed request in with the White House seeking comment on how the proposed rule squares with Trump’s professed support for LGBT people.

An HHS spokesperson referred the Blade to a news statement summarizing the proposed rule in response to an inquiry on why it’s necessary and its potential negative impact on LGBT people.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, applauded the Trump administration in a statement for moving forward with the anti-LGBT regulation.

“Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad,” Perkins said.

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.

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Politics

Hillary Clinton labels Justice Thomas ‘a person of grievance’

Clinton cautioned that Thomas was also sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception

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Screenshot/YouTube CBS Mornings

NEW YORK – In an interview with CBS News correspondent and co-anchor of CBS Mornings Gayle King, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflected on last Friday’s stunning yet expected overturn of landmark women’s reproductive choice case Roe v. Wade.

During the interview, Secretary Clinton cautioned that Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception to lower federal courts and state legislatures and that he would be willing to consider cases that could target those rights.

“He has signaled in the past to lower courts, to state legislatures to find cases, pass laws, get them up,” Clinton said, adding Thomas’s message to conservative judicial activists has been “I may not get them the first, the second, or the third time, but we’re going to keep at it.”

Clinton also noted, “I went to law school with [Justice Thomas]. He’s been a person of grievance for as long as I have known him — resentment, grievance, anger … Women are going to die, Gayle. Women will die.”

Hillary Clinton on abortion ruling: “Women are going to die”

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Politics

U.S. House Speaker hints at legislation to codify same-sex marriage rights

Pelosi suggested such legislation in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at SF Pride 2022 by photographer Barbara Kinney (published by permission)

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) hinted at the possibility of legislation to codify the right of same-sex couples to marry, which many fear is in danger after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, as part of an effort to secure “freedoms which Americans currently enjoy.”

Pelosi suggested such legislation could be in the works in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus addressing plans for congressional action after the ruling last week in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated the right for women to access an abortion.

The concurrence of U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is a core component of the letter from Pelosi, who expressed consternation about his rejection of finding unenumerated rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is still appalling to me that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would agree that a Constitutional right does not exist if it was not spelled out explicitly and in public when the 14th Amendment was ratified over 150 years ago,” Pelosi said. “While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America. Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution.”

Thomas said in his concurring opinion he welcomes vehicles that would allow the court to revisit other major decisions, such as the Griswold decision guaranteeing the right to contraceptives; the Lawrence decision decriminalizing sodomy for same-sex couples and others; and the Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Although Pelosi doesn’t explicitly say she’ll introduce legislation on same-sex marriage, she brought up “access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality,” then added, “Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy. More information to follow.”

“It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications,” Pelosi said. “It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American.”

Any legislation seeking to codify marriage equality would have to get around marriage being an issue administered by the states under the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution. In the past, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage and states to recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere.

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California Politics

Abortion rights: California Constitutional Amendment heads to ballot

The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women

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Capitol building in Sacramento (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In November, California voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution to include the right to an abortion and today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to further protect women coming to California from other states.

“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” said Newsom. “We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution. And we’re not waiting until November to take action, today’s executive order ensures that the state will not hand over patients who come here to receive care and will not extradite doctors who provide care to out-of-state patients here. In California, women will remain protected.”  

The order signed today prevents any information, including medical records and patient data, from being shared by state agencies or departments in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict access. The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women.

SCA 10 was passed by the California State Assembly today and now heads to the November ballot.  

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday, Governor Newsom signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state. In addition, Governor Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.  

The budget agreement announced yesterday includes more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.  

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