The House Ways and Means Committee issued a scathing 34-page report this week accusing the Trump administration of “intentionally” harming LGBTQ Americans and violating a congressional mandate to act in the best interest of children by permitting South Carolina’s government-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away same-sex prospective parents, NBC News reports.
The report, “Children at Risk: The Trump Administration’s Waiver of Foster Care Nondiscrimination Requirements,” called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), led by Trump appointee Alex Azar, to immediately rescind the 2019 waiver granted to South Carolina.
“As subsequent Trump Administration actions confirm, HHS is using the South Carolina waiver as a harmful precedent beyond child welfare, essentially using vulnerable foster youth as test cases for its discriminatory policies across all HHS services,” the report, released by the Democratic-led committee on Wednesday, states.
The Health and Human Services Department, which regulates child welfare agencies, issued the waiver to Miracle Hill Ministries in January 2019 after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster requested an exception to the department’s nondiscrimination regulations. At the time, McMaster praised President Donald Trump for protecting the religious liberty of the evangelical Protestant organization, which handles up to 15 percent of the foster placements in the state.
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The report says the department inappropriately issued the waiver and ignored child welfare experts in order to create a policy that “intentionally harms LGBTQ children, adults, and families.” It says that the waiver was not about ensuring religious freedom but was intended to target the LGBTQ community, and that the department withheld documentation regarding its motivations for the waiver.