Xtra Weekly
2 min

Donald Trump’s administration proposed changes to an Obama-era rule, which would remove protection for LGBTQ2 people

Here’s your Xtra Weekly, Nov. 8

Credit: The Associated Press/Evan Vucci; Francesca Roh/Xtra

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WEEKLY EXPLAINER

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed changing the wording of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule. The revision, according to The Washington Post, reveals how the government values religious freedom over LGBTQ rights.

Here’s the background 👉Earlier this month, the HHS proposed a change to grant regulations, a move driven by concerns for religious freedom, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The proposal would undo the changes made by the Obama administration, which explicitly state that any person eligible to obtain the HHS’ services won’t be discriminated against based on “characteristics such as age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The current administration’s proposed rule would guarantee people’s protections based on the existing federal statute. This includes those covered by laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and others that protect against discrimination based on age and race, but not sexual orientation and gender identity. As noted by The Washington Post, this change would “effectively eliminate discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in all of HHS grants programs.”

What does this mean? If the rule is adopted, it will affect the country’s federally-funded child welfare system, as well as foster care and adoption programs. Most agencies that receive this funding are faith-based organizations in states like South Carolina, Michigan and Texas. Many have been vocal in their opposition to being “forced” to work with LGBTQ2 parents, saying it requires them to cast aside their religious beliefs.

In a statement, Zack Pruitt, senior counsel for the non-profit conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, said that prior to the proposed changes by the Trump administration, religious providers were forced to compromise and “abandon their deeply held religious beliefs.”

“We commend the administration for protecting a diversity of providers to ensure the greatest number of children find a permanent, loving family,” Pruitt said.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer for the Family Equality Council, said, “This represents another attack by this administration on the lives of the most vulnerable in our country under the pretense of religious freedom.”

Now what? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would begin to enforce the change to the HHS rule immediately.

In a statement, Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, said, “This rule will open the door to discrimination based on faith, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in countless federally-funded programs, including critical programs that serve the more than 400,000 children in foster care around the country. Today, the Trump administration has turned its back on each of them.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly supported anti-LGBTQ2 initiatives. The president has tried to ban trans people from serving in the military, he rolled back protections for trans students and allowed employers to discriminate against LGBTQ2 workers on the grounds of “religious freedom.” According to a document tracked by GLAAD, an American LGBTQ2 watchdog group, Trump has attacked queer people via policy and rhetoric 130 times since he became president in 2016.

In terms of the proposed HHS rule, Cooper said, “It is despicable that this administration would authorize taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against children and turn away qualified families they desperately need. Children and families should not be denied services because of discrimination.”

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