March 14, 2019 Press Release

Secretary Azar Lied to Congress About His Agency’s Anti-LGBTQ Policies Regarding Foster Care

03.14.19 — During his third day of Congressional testimony today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar lied about his agency’s discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ policies regarding foster care.  

Specifically, Azar claimed his agency does not support any restriction on placement of foster children; yet HHS granted a waiver earlier this year to allow a South Carolina organization that refuses to work with non-Christians or LGBTQ individiuals to receive federal funds to facilitate foster care. President Trump also signalled his desire to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex families in early February.  

Equity Forward issued the following statement in response:

“It’s bad enough that Alex Azar’s HHS is advocating for state-sponosored discrimination, but now he has the audacity to lie about it in front of Congress. That’s simply unacceptable,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward. “If Trump’s health department wants to discriminate against LGBTQ families and non-Christians, Alex Azar could at least have the courage to be honest about it in front of Congress.”

HHS’ discriminatory policies regarding adoption and foster care originate in its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which has a history of allowing discrimination under the cover of “religious freedom.” OCR is led by Roger Severino, a former Heritage Foundation staffer who has made a career out of professionalizing his homophobic beliefs. Earlier this year, Severino made headlines for attempting to write transgender individuals out of existence in the Affordable Care Act (ACA); his bigoted views were recently the subject of a Netflix show.  

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) was also involved in the waiver; ACF’s Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson has supported controversial legislation that allowed for children removed from neglectful, abusive homes to be placed in a juvenile detention facility.

About Equity Forward

Equity Forward is a watchdog project that seeks to ensure transparency and accountability among anti-reproductive health groups and individuals. In addition to running, an extensive website with a library of research on nearly 50 political appointees at our nation's health department, Equity Forward also runs, which calls on Secretary Azar not to cut nearly $100 million in lifesaving research at the behest of the anti-abortion lobby.