GOP AGs Call on Biden Admin to Change HHS Rule That Pushes Christians Out of Foster Care System
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A cohort of Republican attorney generals are calling the Biden administration to back down on a new rule they say will remove faith-based providers from the foster care system if they do not change their religious beliefs on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, along with 18 of his GOP colleagues in other states, sent a letter Monday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notifying them that a newly proposed rule altering requirements for foster care families violates the Constitution and discriminates against people who uphold a Biblical view on sexuality and gender.
The proposed rule, Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements, would require foster families to utilize a foster child's "identified pronouns, chosen name, and allow the child to dress in an age-appropriate manner that the child believes reflects their self-identified gender identity and expression."
Agencies must also make sure that "safe and appropriate" placement for any child identifying as LGBTQ. To be "safe and appropriate", providers must establish an environment that is "free of hostility, mistreatment, or abuse based on the child's LGBTQI+ status."
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra described this new rule and other regulatory changes as "game-changing," and expressed, "This is going to change the complexion of how we view foster care treatment for our foster kids, but more importantly, how we look at the people who we rely on to care for foster kids."
But the attorney generals warned that "the proposed rule will harm children by limiting the number of available foster homes, harm families by risking kinship placements, and harm states by increasing costs and decreasing care options."
"These injuries will be suffered while HHS fails to solve a problem that the proposed rule does not even prove exists in foster care," the AGs wrote.
The AGs noted the rule seeks to undermine a Supreme Court ruling that protected faith-based providers in the foster care system if they did "not conform their religious beliefs on sexual orientation and gender identity."
As CBN News reported, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the court ruled that the city of Philadelphia was wrong to reject Catholic Social Services because the group said it wouldn't violate its religious beliefs about sexuality.
"The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.
The AGs' letter points out that the foster care system depends on both individuals and organizations of faith. Nearly 391,000 children were in foster care in 2022 and it will be estimated that 416,500 children will be in foster care by 2027.
"Without faith-based organizations and foster homes, the foster care system would face a critical lack of placement options," the AGs wrote adding that "caring for children in need is a duty of the Christian faith" citing Mark 9:37 and James 1:27.
"Since the first century, Christians across the globe have answered the call to provide a home and a family to children who had neither," Marshall said in a statement Monday. "Alabama boasts a particularly strong faith-based foster care and adoption community, and I will fight this Administration for them every step of the way."
Other attorneys general signing the letter were from Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
"The federal government should be searching for ways to increase the number of foster homes, not decrease them," they wrote.
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