Published September 11, 2023
On September 11, 2023, EPPC scholars Eric Kniffin and Natalie Dodson submitted a public comment opposing a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would rewrite sex discrimination provisions in more than a dozen laws that undergird federal grant programs. HHS proposes applying these provisions as if they also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The proposed rule also offers inadequate protections for religious liberty. The social services programs these statutes created depend in substantial part on religious organizations, many of whom cannot comply with HHS’s reinterpreted grant terms without violating their religious convictions. Yet the proposed rule offers no religious exemptions or accommodations: HHS only offers that grant recipients may voice their concerns, and HHS will consider them “promptly.”
As the EPPC scholars explain in their comment:
The Proposed Rule contradicts long-standing scientific understandings of human biology and thereby endangers public health. The Proposed Rule turns the clock back on girls’ and women’s rights, tramples parental rights, harms children’s interests, dismantles sex-based protections, and violates religious freedom and conscience rights of grantees and religious institutions. While the Department claims to “take seriously its obligations to comply with Federal religious freedom laws, including the First Amendment and RFRA,” the proposed religious exemption process is inadequate and not reflective of an agency “seriously” considering religious freedom laws. The Proposed Rule inverts our civil rights law and should be withdrawn and abandoned.
The scholars urged HHS to withdraw the proposal.
Read EPPC’s Press Release about EPPC’s and other groups’ comments here.