Funders for LGBTQ Issues Statement on HHS Contracting Rule Change

Funders for LGBTQ Issues Statement on HHS Contracting Rule Change

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on November 15, 2019

Earlier this month the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would immediately allow discrimination against LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities in its taxpayer-funded programs. Even in the context of the Trump administration’s steady drumbeat of attacks against the most vulnerable members of our communities, this change is extraordinarily wide-reaching, impacting programs that make up more than one-fourth of all federal spending.[1]


The announcement means HHS will no longer enforce its own regulations requiring HHS funded programs to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people, people seeking abortion and related reproductive healthcare, people living with HIV, children in foster care or adoption programs, religious minorities, older Americans, and people with disabilities. It would also allow grantee programs to treat same-sex marriages as invalid, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s establishment of marriage equality as the law of the land.[2]


As a result of this new rule:

  • Adoption and foster care agencies could refuse to place children in need of homes with qualified and loving LGBTQ families.[3]
  • LGBTQ children in foster care could be subjected to conversion therapy in the 31 states where such harmful procedures are still lawful.[4]
  • A transgender person could be denied critical healthcare services simply because of who they are.
  • A Jewish woman could be denied services for her child because she does not share a service provider’s religious beliefs.


Under the Obama administration, HHS, with significant input and advocacy from LGBTQ communities and our allies, developed policies and strategies to help ensure that all Americans receive equal access to healthcare and human services programs.This latest rule change means the agency will no longer enforce its own regulations requiring its grantees–from adoption agencies to community clinics, from agencies serving homeless youth to Head Start and Meals on Wheels–to make sure federal taxpayer dollars are not used to fund discrimination.


“We continue to be alarmed and deeply disturbed by the Trump administration’s intentional targeting of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community, in particular harming queer and trans people of color, all women, LGBTQ youth, seniors, immigrants, religious minorities, and those with disabilities,” said Funders for LGBTQ Issues President Ben Francisco Maulbeck. “We will remain vigilant and committed to keeping our members informed of the impacts of these rollbacks of anti-discrimination protections, as well as the innovative strategies and work LGBTQ communities are building in response.” 


Funders for LGBTQ Issues will present programming related to this and other related attacks from the Trump administration at our annual convening Funding Forward, and share other opportunities for funders to learn more about how they can stay updated and respond. If your institution is responding to these attacks, please let us know so that we can monitor the philanthropic response. For those interested in submitting public comments on this rule, you can do so through Family Equality Council’s Every Child Deserves a Family campaign. The campaign includes a broad coalition of LGBTQ and allied organizations.

In addition to the sources cited in this statement please visit the following for more information on the potential impact of this rule:

  1.  Center for American Progress, HHS Proposal Puts Millions of Americans at Risk of Discrimination When Accessing Federally Funded Services, 11/5/19. The HHS’ grant budget is currently more than $525 billion.
  2.  Ibid. “By removing the explicit requirement for grantees to abide by Supreme Court rulings and treat married same-sex couples equally, the proposed HHS rule would make an end run around the court’s decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, which ensured the right of all people to marry the person they love, as well as in Pavan v. Smith, which affirmed that the government was prohibited from denying married same-sex couples the same ‘rights, benefits, and responsibilities’ as married different-sex couples.”
  3.  Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign
  4.  Ibid. and Movement Advancement Project Conversion Therapy Map.

Image note: Photo by Sara Rampazzo on Unsplash

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