“By hiding this provision in an appropriations bill, lawmakers are trying to avoid public debate about a measure that would break the most important rule in child welfare: that the needs of children come first.”
May 15, 2018 — For Immediate Release
NEW YORK — The South Carolina legislature has inserted a provision into H. 4950, the state’s 2018–2019 appropriations bill, that would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare providers to refuse to place children in foster care with prospective parents who don’t meet the provider’s religious litmus test. This single paragraph was quietly inserted into the over 500-page bill without debate, and would allow foster care agencies to turn away LGBTQ individuals, people of different faiths, or unmarried individuals.
“Turning away qualified foster and adoptive parents limits the pool of available homes for youth in care, making it harder to find forever homes for the over 4,000 children currently in the South Carolina foster care system,” said The Reverend Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality Council, “By hiding this provision in an appropriations bill, lawmakers are trying to avoid public debate about a measure that would break the most important rule in child welfare: that the needs of children come first.”
Religious freedom is a core American value, and it is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But freedom of religion does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, or to deny loving homes to vulnerable children in foster care, simply because prospective parents don’t share an agency’s religious beliefs. The majority of the American public agree: a September 2017 poll demonstrated that 68% of Americans oppose allowing taxpayer-funded child placing agencies to refuse to place children with gay or lesbian couples.
Family Equality Council is committed to continuing to fight on behalf for LGBTQ families and for child welfare systems that are free from discrimination. Family Equality Council is proud to lead the national Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, bringing together a broad coalition of organizations from across the political spectrum, including child welfare organizations, child welfare professionals, advocacy and civil rights organizations, and current and former foster youth with lived experience in the child welfare system. Campaign members are united in the belief that no otherwise qualified foster or adoptive parent should be turned away due to their marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
About Family Equality Council
Family Equality Council advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality Council believes every LGBTQ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live.
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