South Carolina Couple Sues Trump Administration After Being Denied Fostership Because They’re Gay

'Faith is a part of our family life, so it is hurtful and insulting to us that [the agency's] religious view of what a family must look like deprives foster children of a nurturing, supportive home,' say the couple.

a conceptual rendering of the word adoption
Nick Youngson / The Blue Diamond Gallery (CC BY 3.0 Cropped and resized)

'Faith is a part of our family life, so it is hurtful and insulting to us that [the agency's] religious view of what a family must look like deprives foster children of a nurturing, supportive home,' say the couple.

A South Carolina couple has sued both the Trump administration and their state’s governor after a faith-based adoption agency turned them away because they’re gay, Yahoo News reports.

Brandy Welch and Eden Rogers tried to foster a child through Miracle Hill Ministries, a South Carolina adoption and foster-care agency run by evangelical Christians, and with a stated goal of promoting an evangelical Christian worldview. However, the fact that Brandy and Eden are both women and partners in a gay marriage put them up against the ministry’s belief that homosexuality is contradictory to Christian teachings, and their application to be foster parents was denied. They further claim that their religion played a role in the denial, as Brandy and Eden are members of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, according to The Greenville News.

In response, the couple has filed a lawsuit, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, which provides legal representation to LGBTQ individuals. The couple didn’t sue the ministry, however. Rather, they sued the Trump administration, South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, for creating the legal framework that allowed the denial in the first place.

Back during the waning days of the Obama administration, the then-president enacted rules that prohibit faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that receive federal funds from discriminating based on religion or sexual orientation, among other factors.

However, South Carolina’s Department of Social Services waived those regulations when it came to Miracle Hill, which resulted in Welch and Rogers being turned away.

In their lawsuit, the two women say that their home is one of love and acceptance and that there is no legitimate reason for them to be denied the opportunity to provide foster care for a child in need.

“We work hard to raise our own two girls in a loving and stable home. Faith is a part of our family life, so it is hurtful and insulting to us that Miracle Hill’s religious view of what a family must look like deprives foster children of a nurturing, supportive home,” Welch said.

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In a statement, a Miracle Hill spokesperson said that the agency is sticking to its guns.

“We would be honored to work with [Rogers and Welch] if they shared our religious convictions in belief and practice,” said Miracle Hill President and CEO Reid Lehman.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has been attempting to roll back those Obama-era protections. Speaking earlier this year at the National Prayer Day service, Trump said that his administration would “preserve the central role of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to care for vulnerable children while following their deeply held beliefs.”