Washington, D.C.—Today, the church/state watchdog American Atheists denounced the Trump Administration’s latest attack on civil rights, a new regulation that strips vital nondiscrimination protections from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant programs. This rule will allow organizations receiving HHS grants to discriminate when providing government-funded services and will primarily impact discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion.
HHS has long prevented organizations and individuals from receiving grants if they discriminate while providing services. In 2016, the Obama Administration passed a rule that expanded these nondiscrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. With today’s final rule, the Trump Administration has eliminated these protections for LGBTQ people, despite the recent Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision, which extended federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people.
“HHS provides more than $500 billion in grants annually to support the health and wellbeing of all Americans. Religious groups wanted access to this money — but they didn’t want to be forced to serve LGBTQ people or those with differing beliefs. And now, on their way out the door, the Administration is changing the rules to give these groups exactly what they want: access to public funds with no strings attached,” said Alison Gill. “Taxpayers should not be forced to fund discrimination, nor should Americans be turned away from government-funded programs. It’s an egregious attack on religious freedom.”
American Atheists notes that this rule change will significantly impact adoption and foster care, where services are often provided by religious child welfare agencies. Based on this rule, agencies that discriminate against potential parents for being LGBTQ or of another religion cannot be denied federal funding for doing so.
“Trump may have signed a massive check to religious bigots, but it’s children in desperate need of forever homes who will pay the price,” said Gill. “Children must come first, not the discriminatory beliefs of adoption agencies being paid by the government to serve them.”
“The day after Donald Trump and his mob of Christian nationalists launched a failed coup at the Capitol, he is unconstitutionally and unilaterally assaulting the rights of millions of Americans. The timing could not be more revelatory,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “We call on the Biden Administration to halt implementation of this discriminatory rule.”