WASHINGTON — A Republican lawmaker from Puerto Rico has joined with a Democratic representative from Georgia to reintroduce a bill that that would prohibit foster and adoption agencies that receive federal funds from declining to place children in homosexual or single parent households.
“No child or youth involved with child welfare services, family, or individual shall, on the grounds of religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), or marital status, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in the administration or provision of child welfare programs and services by a covered entity receiving federal financial assistance,” reads the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act.”
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga,, and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, R-Puerto Rico, released a statement earlier this month suggesting that it is wrong for foster care and adoption agencies to place children only with a mother and father or with Christians.
“Many adults want to open their homes and their hearts, but they also are facing more and more barriers, because some officials can say they practice the wrong religion, love the wrong person, or are not married,” Lewis said.
“We are failing a full generation in the early stages of their lives, since we are unable to provide them with the necessary tools that will set the base for their future actions or decisions by denying them the love of a family by mere prejudices and lack of understanding of that love that has no barriers imposed by society,” González-Colón opined.
They said that the proposed legislation would eradicate “interpretations of the law that can lead to discrimination.”
While the bill acknowledges that “[r]eligious organizations play a critical role in providing child welfare services,” it also specifically prohibits faith-based foster and adoption agencies from citing their religious convictions as a reason to decline placement in certain home arrangements.
“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, this Act, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of this Act,” the legislation states.
The requirement would not apply to private adoption agencies that do not work with the government to place children in foster care.
The effort has been filed a number of times over the past decade, and this time around, presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is a Senate sponsor.
As previously reported, the issue of whether faith-based foster and adoption agencies may operate in accordance to their religious convictions has been a significant topic of discussion in recent years.
In April, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction to a Philadelphia foster agency whose contract with the City was cancelled over a non-discrimination ordinance that prohibits agencies from turning away homosexuals. Now, without a contract, Catholic Social Services can’t place any children in government custody into a loving home.
Last month, a federal judge likewise ruled against a foster and adoption agency in Syracuse, New York, stating that the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) did not act with anti-religious bias when it issued an ultimatum that the agency either change its policies in regard to only placing children in homes with both a mother and father or discontinue its foster and adoption program.
New Hope Family Services is considering an appeal.
Ephesians 6:4 teaches that children are to be brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Psalm 78 says of God’s works, “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.”
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children. That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children.”