"We strongly urge the department to enforce existing federal nondiscrimination regulations that protect against discrimination based on sex and religion and rescind this proposed rule," they said.
A federal court recently blocked the Obama-era regulation from going into effect in a case involving the Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities and a family looking to adopt, represented by the legal group Becket.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Catholic Charities West Michigan in a federal lawsuit against state officials who withheld funding from faith-based adoption agencies over their stances on marriage.
Religious adoption agencies in several states and the District of Columbia have been shut down by anti-discrimination laws that require them to place children with same-sex couples. Anti-discrimination provisions in state funding laws have also resulted in the shut down of agencies that cannot in good faith follow funding requirements that they place children with same-sex couples.
The federal rule would not necessarily change these laws and funding rules at the state level.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) introduced an amendment in a 2018 funding bill to withhold some HHS funding from states that would not allow faith-based organizations to carry out their religious mission in child welfare. The amendment was removed from the legislation before a final House vote.
When the rule change was announced Nov. 1, the U.S. bishops' conference said the previous regulation "threatened to shut out faith-based social service providers, namely adoption and foster care agencies that respect a child's right to a mother and a father"
"To restrict faith-based organizations' work by infringing on religious freedom – as the 2016 rule threatened to do - is unfair and serves no one, especially the children in need of these services."
In Massachusetts, Catholic Charities of the Boston Archdiocese stopped its adoption services in 2006. Catholic Charities in California and Illinois stopped their adoption services in 2006 and 2011, respectively.
In 2018, Philadelphia stopped placing adoptive children with Catholic Social Services, only days after the city called for 300 new families to adopt foster children.
The city faces a lawsuit by several foster mothers for its decision to stop working with Catholic Social Services. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not to review the case, Fulton v. Philadelphia.
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Critics of religious freedom protections have established a significant network of NGOs, legal experts and activists to limit religious freedom they consider to be discriminatory on issues of LGBT equality and contraception and abortion access. As CNA has previously reported, some $10 million has been earmarked specifically for this purpose through groups like the Arcus Foundation and the Proteus Fund.