Twenty senators and representatives in Washington are hoping to help end an LGBT movement that has shut down adoption and foster care agencies in Massachusetts, Illinois and California.
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act protects child welfare providers, including private and faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. It's been introduced in Congress for the last two years but the Trump administration could help pave the way for its passage this year.
The inclusion act prevents the federal government from discriminating against agencies that decline to provide a service that conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.
That service could include working with gay couples who'd like to adopt.
The discrimination against providers dates back to 2006 when Catholic Charities in Boston abandoned its adoption work rather than comply with the state gay adoption law.
In 2011, the state of Illinois stopped contracting with Catholic Charities after it refused to work with same-sex couples on adoption and foster care.
LGBT advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign says the bill will harm foster children by denying LGBT couples the ability to foster and adopt. It also says the bill would overrule state non-discrimination statutes and "effectively allow taxpayer funds to be used to discriminate."
But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes the act does not prevent providers from participating in child welfare services – it merely ensures that they will not be excluded because of their religious beliefs.
The bishops also argue that such legislation helps to ensure that women and men who want to place their children for adoption will have a diversity of providers to choose from.
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., are sponsoring the bill along with colleagues in both houses of Congress.