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State AGs respond to White House foster family gender rule

The Biden administration is proposing a rule that would effectively exclude Christian families from fostering kids and jeopardize the foster care system nationwide, a group of Republican state attorneys general said in a letter.

Attorney General Steve Marshall of Alabama, along with 18 colleagues, told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that a new proposed rule that alters requirements for foster care families violates the Constitution and discriminates against people who practice the Christian faith. The proposed rule also “will harm children by limiting the number of available foster homes, harm families by risking kinship placements and harm states by increasing costs and decreasing care options,” they said.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is one of the 19 AGs opposed to the new rules. “As a foster parent myself,” Bailey said in a news release this week, “I am deeply invested in protecting children and putting their best interests first.”

“Biden’s proposed rule does exactly the opposite by enacting policies meant to exclude people with deeply held religious beliefs from being foster parents.”

The Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements rule would mandate that foster parents and families use a foster child’s “identified pronouns, chosen name and allow the child to dress in an age-appropriate manner that the child believes reflects their self-identified gender identity and expression.”

The attorneys general argued that “caring for children in need is a duty of the Christian faith, and moreover, that the foster care system would be crippled without Christian families opening their homed. For example, in Arkansas, one faith-based group was credited with recruiting almost half of the foster homes in the state, and in New Mexico, every private placement agency is Christian.

According to a 2002 study cited in the letter, foster parents recruited through a church or other religious organization foster children for 2.6 years longer than the average foster parent. And practicing Christians are three times more likely to seriously consider fostering than the general population, according to a study by the Barna Group.

Marshall accused President Biden of harassing his state of Alabama.

“Since the first century, Christians across the globe have answered the call to provide a home and a family to children who had neither,” he said. “Alabama boasts a particularly strong faith-based foster care and adoption community, and I will fight this administration for them every step of the way.”

Robert Fischer, director of communications for Missouri LGBTQ advocacy organization PROMO, made it about religion, saying, “doesn’t give any person the right to impose those beliefs on others.”

But many say the rule actually discrimates against faith-based providers. It’s not the first time states have interefered with the speech of foster parents. Kansas did so in 2019 under guidelines put forth by the state’s Democrat Governor Laura Kelly.

The 19 attorneys general agree that the federal rule would “remove faith-based providers from the foster care system” because of their “religious beliefs on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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