Donald Trump’s administration will allow religious foster agencies in South Carolina to turn away LGBT+ people.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) waived anti-discrimination protections for federally funded agencies in the state on Wednesday (January 23), meaning queer or non-Christian people can now legally be rejected.



In a letter to Republican Governor Henry McMaster, the Administration for Children and Families—which is part of the HHS—approved his request for faith-based agency Miracle Hill Ministries to be excluded from discrimination laws, LGBTQ Nation has reported.

McMaster was also informed that as well as Miracle Hill Ministries, which creates around 15 percent of foster families in South Carolina, other religious agencies will be similarly exempted, according to the letter posted by BuzzFeed News’ Dominic Holden.

Steven Wagner, the division’s principal deputy assistant secretary, wrote: “The exception applies with respect to Miracle Hill or any other subgrantee in the SC Foster Care Programme that uses similar religious criteria in selecting among prospective foster care parents.”

Criticism of move allowing discrimination against LGBT+ parents in South Carolina

Human Rights Campaign’s senior counsel Cathryn Oakley condemned the Trump administration’s move, saying in a statement: “Every decision that is made by a provider of child welfare services must be grounded in doing what is the best interest of the child, period.

“Providing care for these kids is critically important, and too many kids languish in the foster care system because there aren’t enough foster and adoptive parents for each child.

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“Children who are waiting for loving and supportive homes deserve better than this”

— ACLU

“Allowing a federal contractor the ability to refuse to work with qualified prospective parents—limiting the pool of prospective parents even further—is directly counter to the best interests of the children waiting for families.”

She said the waiver was fuelling “taxpayer-funded discrimination,” adding that it was “unconscionable, in no small part because it prioritises federal contractors over kids in need of families.”

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster gives the crowd two thumbs up during a gubernatorial primary runoff election watch party at Spirit Communications Park on June 26, 2018 in Columbia, South Carolina
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, who requested the waiver (Sean Rayford/Getty)

On Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote: “Children who are waiting for loving and supportive homes deserve better than this.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden tweeted: “The decision by the Trump administration to allow for taxpayer-funded discrimination is an affront to American values, jeopardising the safety and protection of vulnerable children in foster care across South Carolina, and potentially the country.”

South Carolina waiver follows other moves to discriminate against prospective LGBT+ parents

The waiver given to Miracle Hill Ministries and other religious foster agencies in South Carolina came after numerous attempts to enable anti-LGBT discrimination on both a federal and state level.

Last year, Republicans in Georgia introduced Senate Bill 375, which would allow adoption and foster agencies the right to refuse same-sex couples on the basis of religious freedom.

And in November, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1140 into law, which also enables agencies to reject same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

The Aderholt Amendment, a federal measure introduced by Republicans in Congress which would have enacted this principal across the US, failed last year.




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