COLUMBIA, S.C. — LGBTQ advocates in South Carolina say they are considering suing the state after it passed new measures allowing foster agencies to discriminate against LGBT residents, according to Charleston’s Post and Courier.
Thew new measures, included in a state budge provision as well as an executive order from Gov. Henry McMaster, give a “religious liberty” protection to foster agencies who do not want to place children with same-sex couples based on a so-called “sincerely held religious belief.”
But SC Equality, the Palmetto State’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, says the provisions amount to nothing more than state-sanctioned discrimination.
They’re considering suing the state to stop the measures.
The new provisions seem targeted to assist just one foster parent agency, Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville. Miracle Hill is apparently the only foster agency with anti-gay discriminatory practices in the state. It handles about 15 percent of all foster placements and says it refers same-sex couples on to other agencies which can assist them.
SC Equality’s Jeff Ayers says the referral isn’t enough to counterbalance the active discrimination supported now by the state.
“Even though they were referred on, we still believe that no adoption agency in the state should be cherry-picking who they serve and who they don’t serve,” Ayers said.
Miracle Hill does work with divorced families and single people, so advocates say the agency’s refusal to work with same-sex couples amounts to pure discrimination.
Same-sex couples are almost three times more likely to foster parent than their heterosexual counterparts, according to an analysis from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.