WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, today led 39 Senate Democrats in an effort to stop congressional Republicans from promoting discrimination against LGBTQ Americans seeking to be foster or adoptive parents.
In a letter to Senate appropriators, the senators slammed a House Republican proposal passed earlier this month that would shield taxpayer funded adoption and child welfare agencies that refuse to provide services to children and parents on the basis of religion, LGBTQ status, or family structure. The senators urged the Senate Appropriations Committee not to include this dangerous proposal in the upcoming appropriations bill.
“Allowing child welfare agencies to close the door to willing and fully qualified foster and adoptive parents due to a difference in religious belief opens the door to taxpayer-funded discrimination and deprives vulnerable children of safe and loving homes,” the senators wrote. “We strongly encourage you to reject this language and instead, support federal laws and regulations barring discrimination, and protect the rights of all qualified parents who answer the call to foster and adopt children in foster care.”
The proposal would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold federal funding from states that prevent child welfare agencies from denying services to LGBTQ parents or children, penalizing states with existing nondiscrimination policies. Late last week, over 100 child advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing this proposal.
Wyden was joined on the letter by Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.; Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Chris Coons, D-Del., Maggie Hassan D-N.H.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Dianne Feinstein D-Calif.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Angus King, I-Maine; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Michael Bennet D-Colo.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Tom Udall, D-N.M.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Pa.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Mark R. Warner, D-Va.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Read the full text of the letter here.