Politics & Government

SC ranks low for LGBT rights, report says. This foster care policy is a reason why

Durham’s annual LGBT Pride parade, as seen in this September 2011 file photo, is back this year with new organizers.
Durham’s annual LGBT Pride parade, as seen in this September 2011 file photo, is back this year with new organizers. chuck.liddy@newsobserver.com

The Human Rights Campaign gay rights group has labeled South Carolina a “high priority” state for action based, in part, on a waiver that allows religious foster-care programs to deny service to same-sex couples.

In its annual report ranking states on their LGBT-friendliness, the group calls South Carolina a “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.” Human Rights Watch cites a federal waiver sought by Gov. Henry McMaster — and granted by the Trump administration — to allow the state to license foster-care programs that impose religious restrictions on the families with which they place children.

The waiver allows the Christian Miracle Hill Ministries to continue operating even though it has turned away same-sex couples. The group also was the subject of a complaint from the Anti-Defamation League after it declined a spot to a Jewish volunteer.

Miracle Hill and its supporters argue it is a matter of religious freedom for the group to be able to operate according to its religious beliefs.

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Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
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