Creep of the Week: Alex Azar

Creep of the Week: Alex Azar

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It was only months ago when the Log Cabin Republicans announced that they were endorsing Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid in a Washington Post opinion piece titled something like, “Well, at Least We’re Not In Camps!” And ever since Trump has been going out of his way to treat LCR like he does everyone who has ever believed in him: like garbage. It’s as if he’s daring them to take back their endorsement. (Spoiler alert: they won’t.)

The latest “kick me” signed Trump has taped to the backs of LGBTQ Americans comes courtesy of Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar who has proposed a new rule that would scrap protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people from its grant programs.

What does that mean? Well, according to the Washington Post, the federal government spends $7 billion dollars on “child-welfare system, including foster care and adoption programs.”

Under Obama, protections were put in place that said, essentially, “Hey, if you want these sweet federal dollars, you can’t discriminate against people, including LGBTQ people.”

But some so-called “faith-based” agencies don’t want to deal with LGBTQ people, especially not when it comes to having LGBTQ people taking care of children. Never mind the fact that having same-sex parents is fine and maybe even better than fine according to Serious Research.

Unfortunately, research doesn’t mean much to organizations who believe that God hates … well, you know.

And so, Azar wants to scrap protections for LGBTQ people so he can protect the “religious freedom” to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity all while giving these religious groups taxpayer dollars to do it. Cool cool.

Oh, and did you know that November is National Adoption Month? What auspicious timing.

“It is outrageous that the Trump administration would mark the start of National Adoption Month by announcing a rule to further limit the pool of loving homes available to America’s 440,000 foster children,” Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at Family Equality, said in a statement.

Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, added, “Changing federal nondiscrimination rules to allow child-placing agencies to reduce the pool of qualified potential foster and adoptive parents runs counter to the cardinal rule of child welfare: that the best interests of children in care must come first.”

But then, this is the Trump Administration we’re talking about. The administration that tore thousands of families apart at the border with absolutely no plan or intention of reuniting them and who literally put kids in cages for the crime of having brown skin and being the children of immigrants and asylum seekers.

The administration that pulled out of the Paris Climate agreement while children across the country and across the world literally beg adults to stop destroying the Earth so that they might have a chance at a future. The administration that has fought against a woman’s right to reproductive freedom both here and abroad. The administration that thinks public education should be made into a for-profit business to enrich its Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Honestly, when has this administration done anything that put children first?

In addition to discrimination when it comes to adoption, the rule also threatens the health care rights and needs of transgender people.

“Stigma and prejudice are fueling a public health crisis among transgender people across the country, one that manifests itself as suicide, addiction, intimate partner violence and HIV,” Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “Enabling providers of life-saving services to worsen these crises by rejecting transgender people is a moral crime and a severe abdication of HHS’s mission to preserve public health.”

Democrats were quick to condemn Azar’s decision.

Elizabeth Warren called the move “disgraceful.”

“We must do everything we can to block this rule — and we must pass the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ+ people’s rights are explicitly protected by law,” she tweeted.

Kamala Harris also responded to the news.

“Let’s call this out for what it is: taxpayer-funded discrimination,” she wrote in a Tweet. “I’ve spent my career fighting on behalf of LGBTQ+ people. As president, I will sign the Equality Act into law to ensure the federal government has their back.”

It’s worth noting that the Democrat-controlled U.S. House passed the Equality Act but it cannot get past the Republican-controlled Senate. So vote for Democrats, damn it.

You can share your opposition to the proposed regulation by leaving a comment via Family Equality’s Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign site: everychilddeservesafamily.com/hhs-comment

Will your comment change hearts and minds in the Trump administration? Well, no. After all, having either a heart or a mind automatically disqualifies someone from being part of the administration. But it’s still important to loudly declare that what is happening is not happening in your name. Because history is not going to judge Trump or his administration kindly. So raise some hell. 

D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.


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