Government-funded foster care agencies in South Carolina can now deny services to same-sex couples, and this is unacceptable
During the first two years of the Trump administration, discrimination against LGBTQ people and non-Christians has repeatedly been endorsed by those in power. The Supreme Court ruled that a baker could refuse to serve a gay couple, and Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, just got a job at a school that does not allow gay teachers or students. Now, NBC News reports that on January 23rd, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enabled state-funded foster care organizations in South Carolina to refuse services to same-sex and non-Christian couples.
Under the Obama administration, foster care groups receiving federal funds were prohibited from discriminating against potential foster parents based on their religious beliefs. But in February 2018, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster sought a waiver for the Greenville-based organization Miracle Hill Ministries, which the federal government ultimately granted. With the waiver in place, Miracle Hill—and similar agencies in South Carolina—will be able to retain its government funding while turning away foster families that aren’t Christian or heterosexual. However, the organization will have to refer any potential foster families it rejects to either another agency or the state Department of Social Services.
According to the Greenville News, Miracle Hill is the largest organization in South Carolina that recruits foster parents for non-special needs children. The agency requires potential foster parents to agree with its statement of faith, and it is known to refuse to help same-sex couples. The Intercept notes that the state Department of Social Services has previously raised concerns over Miracle Hill’s requirements for its foster parents.
In a statement, McMaster wrote:
However, in a blog post about the waiver, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley condemned the decision.
The Anti-Defamation League also spoke out against the Miracle Hill waiver. “Allowing a taxpayer-funded agency to discriminate against Jews, #LGBTQ people and others is wrong, plain & simple, and it will deny children loving homes,” the organization tweeted.
It’s absolutely appalling that any willing foster parent would be turned away because of their religion or sexuality. Foster children deserve loving homes—end of story.