Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons joined 38 Senate Democrats in an effort to stop congressional Republicans from promoting discrimination against LGBTQ Americans seeking to be foster or adoptive parents.

In a letter to Senate appropriators, Carper and Coons slammed a House Republican proposal passed earlier this month that would shield taxpayer funded adoption and child welfare agencies that refuse to provide services to children and parents on the basis of religion, LGBTQ status or family structure. The senators urged the Senate Appropriations Committee not to include this proposal in the upcoming appropriations bill.

“Allowing child welfare agencies to close the door to willing and fully qualified foster and adoptive parents due to a difference in religious belief opens the door to taxpayer-funded discrimination and deprives vulnerable children of safe and loving homes,” the senators wrote. “We strongly encourage you to reject this language and instead, support federal laws and regulations barring discrimination and protect the rights of all qualified parents who answer the call to foster and adopt children in foster care.”

The proposal would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold federal funding from states that prevent child welfare agencies from denying services to LGBTQ parents or children, penalizing states with existing nondiscrimination policies.

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2AdduDZ.