Tennessee law to disallow LGBTQ families from adopting
A Tennessee law will assure continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that will not allow LGBTQ families to adopt based on religious objections.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) had announced that he will sign into the law HB 836 passed by the GOP-controlled Senate on the first day of their legislative session.
The bill was initially approved by the Tennessee house on April last year. Critics warned that this measure could severely affect the state’s reputation.
Tennessee law to be signed by governor
The bill is set to be signed by the governor after Lee had earlier declined to comment on the matter before the Senate vote. Lee said he had not read the two-page bill.
Twenty Republicans approved the bill while five others simply voted, “present.” Sen. Steve Dickerson was the sole Republican to join all five Democrats in the Senate to oppose the bill.
Dickerson warned that the bill might force businesses to refuse to hold events in the state. Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D) said the bill would deny homes to children that need them.
Sen. Paul Rose, the Republican sponsor of the bill, said: “This bill is solely about freedom.”
But Rose admitted that the bill may not be necessary as the Trump administration is pushing a similar protection.
Tennessee law similar to laws in other states
According to the measure, it would allow adoption agencies to refuse to work with families if these would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
Similar measures like the one in Tennessee have already been passed in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia, Mississippi, and Michigan.
However, Michigan will not turn away LGBTQ couples or individuals to adopt because of religious objections after settling a lawsuit.
Supporters said measures like these protect the religious beliefs of groups and agencies against potential lawsuits. But critics said these attack LGBTQ rights.
They also limit the number of qualified families wanting to adopt or foster children.
Rights and foster groups up in arms
Civil rights and foster advocates slammed the proposed measure pending with the governor.
“Children who need more homes, not fewer, should not suffer as part of efforts to chip away at equality for LGBTQ families,” said Currey Cook, counsel and director of Lambda Legal.
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, warned that this will “send a clear signal across the country that Tennessee is not welcoming to diverse communities and not open for business.”
On the other side, conservative Christians– including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission– supported the bill.
The new measure could also threaten local anti-discrimination ordinances in cities like Memphis and Nashville.