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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has scrapped some faith-based exemptions for child welfare agencies as part of a sweeping move to roll back Trump-era protections on religious freedom.

Last week, Granthshala News reported on HHS’s interest in revoking the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) authorization to invoke the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which adds to prior administration policies on sexuality and gender. There is a historical statute used. An internal memo featured OCR director Lisa Pino arguing that the authority’s delegation made inappropriate decisions on those issues.

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As of Wednesday, that repeal had been noted in the Federal Register, and HHS had removed many exemptions for faith-based organizations such as foster care agencies that refuse to work with same-sex couples. families said A press release said the exemptions issued to South Carolina, Texas and Michigan were overly broad and “unfair.”

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HHS memo shows department moving to undo Trump-era action aimed at better protecting religious freedom

“Our actions ensure that we are best prepared to protect every American’s right to be free from discrimination,” HHS Secretary Javier Becerra said in a press release on Thursday. “With the large number of discrimination claims before us, we are indebted to all who come forward to take action, whether they review, investigate or take appropriate measures to protect their rights. At HHS, we Take seriously any violation of civil rights or religious freedom.”

HHS’s latest move, which applies to groups that receive federal funding, will likely provoke greater congressional scrutiny as members have already criticized Becerra and introduced legislation to block his actions. Is.

Exterior of the US Department of Health and Human Services building on August 15, 2006 in Washington, DC

“President Biden and Secretary Becerra are ignoring the First Amendment,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. said in a statement to Granthshala News. “This action reinforces that Secretary Becerra will not keep the commitment to protecting religious freedom for every American that he made during his confirmation hearing.”

Roger Severino, who led OCR under Trump and who currently serves as a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told Granthshala News, “These outrages are the latest in a long line of attacks on religious freedom. It’s the day Biden took office. And that prospect will never end until he and his hardline HHS secretary remain in the reins of power.”

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He said that “with HHS free of charge of its office for civil rights of the power to admit complaints of religious freedom, the people had no choice but to sue when HHS compulsorily seeks any The lack of internal investigation tramples on their rights.”

The RFRA delegation arrived on December 7, 2017 in response to the administration’s extensive efforts to strengthen religious freedom protections. families Given The OCR Authority, among other things, conducts RFRA compliance reviews and “initiates such other actions as may be necessary to facilitate and ensure compliance with RFRA.” Becerra rescinded that delegation and the second delegation issued on January 15, 2021.

HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Granthshala News on Wednesday. Becerra’s filing in the Federal Register echoes his department’s memorandum in the argument that authority should be spread among HHS’s various agencies.

“Components of the Department, in consultation with the OGC [Office of General Counsel]Responsible for evaluating RFRA-based requests for waivers, waivers and revisions of program requirements in programs they operate or supervise, and are in a best-case scenario,” the filing states.

Severino also pointed to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. In that case, the court issued a narrower opinion in favor of a Catholic foster agency that sought to challenge Philadelphia’s nondiscrimination ordinance requiring same-sex couples to serve. The matter was referred to the lower court and recently Settled Along with maintaining exemptions with Catholic social services.