As America celebrates National Adoption Month, Vice President Mike Pence praised President Donald Trump’s rule allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to refuse placement to same-sex couples.
On Tuesday, Pence made an appearance at an event hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C., one intended to encourage families to adopt or foster the estimated 107,000 children in the U.S. awaiting placement. As the Washington Blade reports, Trump’s second-in-command gave a speech applauding the president for taking “decisive action” to protect the rights of religious people in the adoption and foster care system and said he “couldn’t be more proud.”
“We’ve reversed the rule implemented in the closing days of the last administration that jeopardized the ability of faith-based providers to serve those in need by penalizing them for their deeply held religious beliefs,” he said. “We will stand for the freedom of religion and we will stand with faith-based organizations to support adoption.”
Pence went onto praise HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who was present at the event, for respecting “the freedom of religion of every American” and recognizing “the vital role that faith-based organizations play in adoption in this country.”
“Child welfare providers will never be forced to choose between their faith and serving those in need — not on our watch,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it will allow foster care and adoption center that receive federal dollars to discriminate in the name of their beliefs. This decision was made after the White House issued a waiver to an evangelical placement agency in South Carolina that didn’t want to serve same-sex, Muslim, Jewish, and interfaith couples.
But while the Blade reports that Pence touted statistics claiming that four out of five families who foster or adopt are motivated by faith, what he did not mention is the critical part that LGBTQ+ families play in the system. According to widely cited statistics, same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt a child and six times to foster than heterosexual couples, which is which nearly every leading child welfare organization in the U.S. opposes the rule.
The American Civil Liberties Union has announced plans to file a lawsuit against the discriminatory rule, which could also lead to LGBTQ+ people being refused services at homeless shelters and HIV/AIDS clinics.