Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over a federal rule barring foster care providers from discriminating against LGBTQ children and families.
The federal rule, enacted under the Obama administration, states that foster care and adoption agencies that receive federal funding cannot deny services based on sexual or gender identity. President Joe Biden aims to strengthen the protections, a commitment that follows anti-trans directives pushed by Texas leaders this year.
In filings with the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas, Paxton argues that the rule is at odds with a 2017 Texas law that protects providers from repercussions for following “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Currently, Texas agencies that don’t comply with the anti-discimination rules stand to lose federal funding.
A press release issued by the state AG’s office announcing the lawsuit states that the non-discrimination rules force Texas to “adopt woke political views that violate the religious liberty” of faith-based foster care and adoption providers. The lawsuit seeks to have the federal rule overturned.
Paxton argues that the state’s child welfare agency does not discriminate against potential foster and adoptive parents who identify as LGBTQ, but that they work with faith-based agencies that “have sincerely held religious beliefs that would prevent them from following” the non-discrimination rule. He further states that Texas forgoing federal funding or ending contracts with those agencies in order to comply with the rule would be harmful to foster children.
This is not the first time the state has attempted to overturn the non-discrimination rule. Texas sued in 2019 to have the federal rule vacated, but the case was dismissed after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicated it would revise the rule and would not enforce it until revisions were complete. The rule was never revised, however, and the issue is currently being challenged in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
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