July 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
40 Senate Dems call for rejection of anti-LGBT adoption measure

Sen. Ron Wyden leads 40 Senate Democrats in opposition to an anti-LGBT adoption amendment.

A group of 40 Senate Democrats led by Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are calling for rejection of an amendment that would penalize states and localities for policies barring taxpayer-funded adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBT families over religious objections.

In a letter dated July 24 to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the lawmakers call for rejection of an amendment inserted into the House version of major funding legislation by Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption services.

“The inclusion of such legislation would sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination and prevent a significant share of Americans from opening their homes to foster children,” the letter says.

The letter draws on the ongoing opioid crisis and the increasing number of children without homes as a result of the problem as a reason for lawmakers to reject the amendment.

“It is never acceptable to use federal funds to discriminate based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure or marital status, but the timing of the House language is particularly egregious given the spike in foster care caseloads across the country brought on the opioid epidemic,” the letter says.

Aderholt introduced the amendment into the fiscal year 2019 labor, health and human services and education appropriations bill during the House Appropriations Committee markup of the legislation. The committee adopted the amendment by a party-line 29-23 vote. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) was the only Republican to vote against it.

It’s unlikely the legislation or the amendment will reached President Trump’s desk for him to sign it into law. The Senate committee has already its approved its version of the funding and a similar measure wasn’t included in the bill. If the bills were conferenced, that would likely mean the anti-LGBT provision would be dropped.

Moreover, in years past, the funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services and Education hasn’t even reached the House floor and those programs continued to receive federal funds through omnibus spending legislation, according to the ACLU.

The Washington Blade has placed a request seeking comment on the letter with the offices of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the panel. [UPDATE: A Leahy spokesperson said the senator “agrees that the Aderholt provision is discriminatory and would insist that it be dropped in conference.”]

Ian Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, commended Wyden and other senators for speaking out against the anti-LGBT adoption amendment.

“There are over 118,000 children awaiting adoption in the United States,” Thompson said. “The best way to provide loving and stable homes for these children is to have as many qualified prospective foster and adoptive parents as possible. Today, 40 members of the Senate – led by Sen. Wyden – joined leading child welfare organizations and civil rights advocates in saying that discrimination has no place in our child welfare system because every child deserves the opportunity to grow up with the support of a loving family.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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