Public Comment

HHS Grants Rule: Public Comment

December 2019

In November 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule that would roll back protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other personal characteristics in HHS-funded grant programs.

  • Adam P. Romero
    Legal Scholarship & Federal Policy Director, Former
  • Jocelyn Samuels
    Executive Director
Public Comment


The proposed rule would prohibit discrimination in HHS-funded programs only to the extent that such protections exist by statute, which would exclude express protections for LGBT people that have been created by regulation. It would also eliminate the Grants Rule requirement that HHS grantees treat same-sex marriages as valid.


If finalized, the rule could limit LGBT people’s access to a range of health care and social service programs, as well as their ability to serve as foster and adoptive parents. Research has shown that LGBT people experience disproportionate rates of poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment and are more likely to participate in public benefit programs. In addition, same-sex parents are seven times more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be raising foster or adopted children.


Scholars argue that the proposed rule is contrary to applicable laws and regulations and violates HHS’s mission to expand access to health care and human services. They demonstrate how HHS has failed to consider the harms that would be caused to LGBT people and how this rule deprives grantees clarity and guidance in applying non-discrimination standards.

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HHS Grants Rule: Public Comment