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Outrageous’ and ‘reprehensible’: Trump gives taxpayer-funded groups green light to discriminate against LGBTQ people

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“This rule is an abuse of taxpayer dollars in the name of empowering hatred and bigotry towards society’s most vulnerable members.”

From taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to programs that serve individuals struggling with substance abuse and youth homelessness, grantees of the Department of Health and Human Services got a green light from the Trump administration Friday to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

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“Religious liberty is not a license to discriminate.”
—ACLU

HHS awards hundreds of billions of dollars in grants annually. The department claimed that the proposed rule (pdf), which took effect immediately, “would better align its grants regulations with federal statutes, eliminating regulatory burden, including burden on the free exercise of religion.”

Critics of the administration’s ongoing assault on LGBTQ rights, meanwhile, raised concerns about the rule’s consequences. On Twitter, the advocacy group Lambda Legal called the administration’s move “reprehensible” and warned that “the impact of this rule is enormous.”

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“This is a remarkable instance of the Trump administration’s flagrant disregard for both the regulatory process and the law,” Lambda Legal noted. “They announced they simply won’t follow the nondiscrimination protections on the books—effectively evading the rulemaking process altogether.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that “this rule is an abuse of taxpayer dollars in the name of empowering hatred and bigotry towards society’s most vulnerable members.”

“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,” Keisling said. “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.”

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The ACLU also condemned the rule in a series of tweets.

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Noting that the rule “would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to turn away foster parents because they are LGBTQ or otherwise fail to meet a religious litmus test,” the ACLU declared that “religious liberty is not a license to discriminate” and “the needs of children in our foster care system must come first.”

That sentiment was echoed by the nonprofit Family Equality and members of the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, who issued a joint statement Friday unequivocally” condemning the rule and warning of its negative impact on children.

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“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.”
—Denise Brogan-Kator, Family Equality

“This action harms America’s foster children, particularly the 123,000 waiting for adoption,” said Family Equality chief policy officer Denise Brogan-Kator. “Less than half of these children will find their forever families within a year, yet the administration is acting to make even fewer families available.”

Brogan-Kator added that “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.”

Release of the rule on Friday coincides with the beginning of an annual national initiative by the Children’s Bureau—which is part of HHS—that aims to “bring attention to the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system.”

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Julie Kruse, Family Equality’s director of federal policy, said that “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.”

Although the administration’s rule was lauded by right-wing religious groups like the Family Research Council, Kruse pointed out that “the American public overwhelmingly opposes allowing taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away qualified parents simply because they are in a same-sex relationship.”

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Trump is in a ‘fight-or-flight state’ over coronavirus: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," Trump biographer and "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz laid out the president's state of mind over the coronavirus crisis.

"Let's understand Trump," said Schwartz. "Trump is the chief energy officer of this land. So, in other words, his energy has a disproportionate impact on all our energy. And he already raised the anxiety of people over the last four years considerably. He'll exploit fear if he thinks that serves him, or deny fear if he thinks that serves him."

"That's an important point," said host Ari Melber. "You're arguing, as someone who worked with him, that while we just heard about a public interest approach, you're saying you don't see him using public interest?"

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‘No time for being patronized,’ say youth climate leaders as UK cops warn parents over Fridays for Future protest

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"Young people should not be underestimated—we have a voice and we are strong."

Youth organizers of a Friday climate protest in Bristol, United Kingdom said they have "no time for being patronized" after local police sent a letter to parents warning of inadequate safety measures for the upcoming demonstration, which teenage activist Greta Thunberg and thousands of others are expected to attend.

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Trump spent 45 minutes talking with cast of right-wing play dramatizing ‘Deep State’ conspiracy theories: report

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The coronavirus emergency has given President Donald Trump one of the most daunting tests of his administration, with less than a year to go before he stands for re-election.

And yet in the midst of all the chaos, one thing the president found time to do on Thursday was meet with the cast of a bizarre right-wing play dramatizing the supposed "deep state" plot at the FBI to frame Trump in the Russia investigation.

According to The Daily Beast, Trump spent 45 minutes talking with the people behind "FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers," which focuses on the affair between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The leading roles of Strzok and Page were played by Dean Cain, the former Superman actor, and Kristy Swanson, who played the starring role in the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

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