State Bills Would Give Adoption Agencies the Right to Discriminate Against LGBT Adoptive Parents. Kids Will Suffer.

Amidst the chaos and perpetual deluge of shocking headlines out of D.C., state legislatures are quietly moving forward with their anti-LGBT agenda, disguised as a more palatable “protection of religious freedom.”

The earliest out of the gate this year is South Dakota, which just passed a law that would allow child-placement agencies receiving state funds to refuse to provide services to children and families if they have religious objections. You won’t find any references to sexual orientation or gender identity in
Senate Bill 149, but this and the dozens of other bills percolating across the country are being promoted by the same groups that are fighting tooth and nail to undermine equality for LGBT people.

What makes the South Dakota bill and others pending in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas (here and here) especially galling is the callous disregard for kids in the foster care system who desperately need loving families to care for them. These bills prioritize the agencies’ religious beliefs over the needs of these states’ most vulnerable children, allowing agencies to use religious criteria to screen out qualified prospective parents.

South Dakotans who are ready, willing, and able to take care of kids in need could be rejected simply because they are LGBT, divorced, or don’t attend church regularly. The Child Welfare League of America
opposed the bill, warning the legislature that “[t]his sweeping bill could be devastating for children in South Dakota’s foster care system, including the more than 300 awaiting adoption and the nearly 1000 children substantiated as abused and neglected.”

Bill Mawhiney, a gay man and a foster and adoptive parent in South Dakota, criticized the legislature for hurting “children in need of a home and the families who want to provide it.” He described the “exhaustive” process he and his partner underwent to become foster parents, which included classes, fingerprinting by both the local police and FBI, disclosing financial information, physicals, and letters of recommendation. If SB 149 becomes law, he warned that children could lose access to countless well-qualified families: “It breaks my heart to think that children could be left behind, denied the family they deserve, because of this misguided legislation.”

Ensuring that all kids have loving homes should be a no-brainer and should not be a partisan issue. In fact, in 2015, a conservative Florida legislator shut down attempts to pass a similar law. “[T]here have been absolutely no indications that same-sex adoptions or same-sex foster care placements have had any negative effects on children,” he pointed out. “My goal here is to get more children—and more special needs children—adopted. … I don’t want there to be any barriers to those children having loving, permanent homes.”

He’s right. Anthony Siegrist, a kid adopted by a lesbian couple in Florida, wrote a blog because he wanted his legislators to know that:

Being adopted and becoming a permanent member of this family has been the greatest gift of my life. … Allowing agencies to put their own interests above the needs of the children in their care is so cruel that I can’t understand how my state’s leaders are even considering it.”

Freedom of religion is one our most fundamental values, and the ACLU fights to defend it. But freedom of religion does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate.

Over the last several years, state legislatures have acted aggressively in their attempts to pass broadly written religious exemption laws, like Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and First Amendment Defense Acts. The public saw through the sometimes obfuscating language and rejected these bills for what they are: measures that would allow religion to be used to discriminate against LGBT people in all walks of life. Indeed, the backlash was swift and painful, with lawsuits, boycotts, economic damage, and tarnished reputations.

Now they are shifting their strategy — by narrowing the scope of their discriminatory bills, these legislators are trying to sneak one past us. Don’t let them. Tell them discrimination is wrong no matter how it is dressed up, and our children and families deserve better.

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Gloria Garber

Your statement above about freedom of religion not giving the right to impose beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate really gave me heart this morning. Thank you for those words and for fighting to make them come true.

Melinda Parmer

Your article and the words of Sen. Don Gaetz of Fl from 2015 (http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/04/14/a_florida_republican_expla...) inspired me to contact my Texas representatives about the 2 bills you linked in the article. Every action I can take to help establish justice, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity (plus all the other constitutional things!), I will strive to do.

Anonymous

You claim discrimination is wrong, but in the same breath say that religious organizations are not allowed to express their belief and we should stop legislation that protects religious freedoms. This appears to me to be a hypocritical position. How is one persons ability to choose gender, greater than a companies position of placing a child in a loving faith-based home? A foster parent often has no say in who they care for, therefor it should be up to the agency to chose the most likely households for a long standing home thereby helping minimize the chance of relocation.

Danielle Wheeler

Would that be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish loving faith-based home? How about an atheist-based home?

JT Kreitzer

Why not a same-sex Christian couples home? Yes it is discrimination if you value the Christian faith of heterosexuals over that of gay Christians.

Anonymous

No, that is NOT what is stated. What is stated is that you cannot discriminate in an agency because of PERSONAL religious beliefs. That would violate the victim's freedom FROM religion. Your religion is yours, that's it. If you say "No you can't do this because of my religion," you are violating their rights. Simple.

Anonymous

People are offended by me saying that possibly 1 or more of the Orlando victims were pedophiles & or drug dealers. In gay/lesbian pubs-drugs like Meth, Extasy are sold as drug junkyism high among them. With pedophilia, many gays were molested as children which ruined their sexuality & some even turn out to be pedophiles. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out 1 or more of the Orlando victims were pedophiles & or drug dealers. Mass murder is wrong but that doesn’t mean worship the victims. Gay/lesbian groups worship gay pedophile Harvey B. Milk. Now I support free speech right for homosexuals to martyr or worship Harvey B. Milk & I support their free speech right to have rainbow flag.

But gay/lesbian groups have pushed Harvey B. Milk day on others such as Harvey.B. Milk day in schools where school kids worship a gay pedophile & that is wrong. Gay/lesbian groups also try to censor others who tell ugly truths on who Harvey B. Milk & other gay pedophiles were. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Orlando victims thought it’s OK to push H.B. Milk day in schools & I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Orlando victims were apologists for gay/lesbian pedophilia. While most gays & lesbians are not pedophiles, gays & lesbians are more likely to support pedophilia when it’s gay/lesbian as gay groups or their friends such as Shepard Foundation’s JC Marsden, Judy L. Shepard, Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Edwards Hunt, etc. support gay pedophile Methew Wayne Shepard. It’s no surprise that Shepard Foundation’s JC Marsden & Judy L. Shepard also supports gay pedophile H.B. Milk incl. pushing Harvey B. Milk day on schoolkids. No, not all gays & lesbians support pedophilia but honestly, gays & lesbians are more likely to tolerate pedophilia when it’s gay/lesbian. Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Hunt abuses her 2 children so Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Hunt thinks child abuse is OK.

Anonymous

Is there a study proving these people are pedophiles or that homosexuals are more likely to support pedophilia if it is same-sex? I have never known a single person that supported pedophilia. From everything I've read, the majority of pedophiles are married white men that get sexually arroused by the pre-pubescent body of female children.

Anonymous

Gay & lesbian conduct causes Gay Bowel Syndrome, bacterial vaginosis & gay men more likely to wear diapers as their sex lives make them incontinent. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health and people who do homosexual/lesbian sexual conduct should pay more for medical insurance just as smokers, obese, etc. pay more for medical insurance due to dangers-homosexual/lesbian sexual conduct is useless, linked to Venereal Diseases (VD) and does not result in procreation. With gay/lesbian conduct by adults, it’s best to find a cure for homosexual/lesbian conduct just as it’s best to find cure for tobacco use. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health & that doesn't procreate. Gays dirty sex acts make them incontinent with gay bowel syndrome-gays & lesbians often shit in diapers.

Anonymous

I'm guessing you don't get out much....

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