A handful of newly proposed policies—more than one on the state level in Tennessee, where an anti-trans “bathroom bill” is also pending, and another on the federal level—could create major barriers for same-sex couples who want to adopt or foster children in need.

Down South, multiple bills were introduced to the Tennessee General Assembly by Republicans that would permit state-funded adoption agencies to deny queer couples on the basis of religious freedom.

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The Tennessee State House in Nashville.

According to the Nashville Tennessean, one bill specifies that agencies wouldn’t be forced to work with couples if it conflicts with their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” effectively granting adoption agencies protection from discrimination lawsuits on the local and state levels.

Under this bill, single people and unmarried couples who want to adopt could also be affected.

Meanwhile, on the federal level, the President has promised faith-based adoption agencies the right to “help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”

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President Trump attends the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast, where he made the aforementioned promise to faith-based groups.

According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration plans to include faith-based foster-care and adoption groups—which usually reject queer people and unmarried couples—in its 2020 budget for federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Their argument? Some of the oldest adoption and fostering groups in America are faith-based—and existing anti-discrimination laws protecting gay couples have actually caused a few to go out of business.

Still, Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at the Family Equality Council, told The Post that the move would essentially grant agencies “a license to discriminate more broadly” from HHS. “It’s a very dangerous precedent,” she added, noting that the proposed budget likely won’t pass through the Democrat-controlled House.

Still, it sends a clear message that the Trump administration values “religious liberty” over the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ Americans.

In a statement, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis condemned the Trump administration for “coordinating with anti-LGBTQ activists to run a nationwide campaign that could roll back acceptance for LGBTQ couples and families”:

Fair-minded Americans will see right through this “religious exemptions” charade, and recognize it as a license to discriminate. This dangerous tactic will not do anything to protect religion, it will only harm youth deserving of loving homes along with hard-working LGBTQ American families.

The Family Equality Council has also launched an online campaign to help Americans identify and contact their local congress members to condemn the budget draft for 2020.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.

@slmjournalist