Dozens of Republicans in Congress are hoping to shut down a trend that has seen some states require faith-based child welfare organizations to provide adoption services to same-sex couples.
Members led by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) say Massachusetts, California, Illinois and the District of Columbia all have versions of these requirements in place today.
They say these rules are already forcing some faith-based groups to completely shut down their efforts to help children in need, because allowing same-sex couples to adopt violates their religious beliefs. They argue the state laws are a type of discrimination against religious groups, and are having the perverse effect of discouraging aid to children.
"Whether providing adoption services, foster care work or counseling for children, faith-based organizations shouldn't have to worry that they will be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs," Enzi said. "This type of discrimination hurts the families and children who rely on these organizations most of all."
To fight the trend, these members have proposed legislation that would take away federal funding from states that impose these requirements on religious organizations.
Specifically, the bill says any state that gets child welfare funding from the federal government would have those funds cut by 15 percent, if the state requires child welfare service providers to let same-sex couples adopt, or sets up any other requirement that conflicts with "the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs."
The bill would also give child welfare providers a right to sue any state that sets up requirements that violate their religious beliefs.
The legislation indicates that the government's rules determine whether a faith-based group can be involved in foster care services. It states that religious organizations have a long history of providing child welfare services, and that many can't do this work without receiving a government grant, or without being licensed by the government.
"This commonsense bill simply ensures that these child welfare providers can keep doing what they do best and are treated the same as the rest," Kelly said.
"It is 100 percent inclusive and child-focused," he added. "No provider should ever have to forfeit their First Amendment rights in order to create a better life for a child."