Target: Senator Mike Enzi and Representative Mike Kelly
Goal: Encourage elected officials not to support an ill-conceived and discriminatory new child welfare bill
In a blatant attack on LGBT families, two Republican lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would block many gay, lesbian, and transgender families from adopting or fostering children under the guise of religious freedom. The bill, misleadingly labeled the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, would permit adoption agencies and foster care organizations to refuse service to anyone they deem unworthy based on their personal religious beliefs. If this bill becomes law, it would not only use taxpayer dollars to promote discrimination, it would deny an untold number of children the possibility of permanent homes and loving parents.
Sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, the act is one of many recent “license to discriminate” proposals that have been advanced by Republicans this year. Although the bill is apparently founded in the belief that gay and lesbian individuals should not form families, since it does not specify same-sex couples, the language leaves the law open to any kind of discrimination an organization can claim as religious. In practice, this means that religious groups could also use the law to deny placement services to Muslim couples, Atheist couples, Jewish couples, or anyone else who does not meet their particular religion’s standards of parenthood.
According to Ellen Kahn, Director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Children, Youth and Families Program, “It’s increasingly clear that, post-Hobby Lobby, some in positions of power believe that religious freedom should only belong to a few. If this bill passes, an Evangelical straight couple, a single father or a committed and loving gay and lesbian couple could find their path to adoption blocked for no reasonable reason other than naked discrimination. This bill has nothing to do with faith.” Let these lawmakers know that protecting discrimination is not the same thing as ensuring religious freedom.
Dear Senator Enzi and Representative Kelly,
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is a blatant and shameful attempt to legitimize prejudice and discrimination. It is a sad day for America when lawmakers are making laws to deny, rather than uphold, citizens’ basic human rights.
Americans decided long ago that religious freedom did not mean one group’s freedom to impose its beliefs on another. The GOP’s continued participation in this charade is a denial of everything our founding fathers stood for and an embarrassment to our shared sense of justice. I hope you will cease your attempts to institutionalize inequality immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: pflagatl.org