The Oklahoma legislature has approved a measure that would allow adoption agencies and foster care agencies to deny the placement of a child with individuals with lifestyles that do not fit their religious or moral criteria. Supporters of LGBT rights oppose the bill they say could deny adoption to same-sex couples, unmarried people, and individuals with non-Christian beliefs. Authored by State Senator Greg Treat, it passed the Oklahoma Senate last month and was approved by the state’s House with a 60-26 vote on Thursday. SB1140 now goes to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk for her signature.
Supporters of the bill continue to try to make some changes to the bill, however. In its current form, the legislation includes an amendment that allows denial of child placement only by agencies that do not receive either state or federal funding. Previous attempts to remove this amendment have failed, but Fox News reports that one of the bill’s endorsers, the Catholic Charity Conference of Oklahoma, continues in their efforts.
Numerous LGBT groups have expressed their opposition to the proposed law. The Hill reports that their opposition is based on a belief that the measure not only discriminates against the LGBT population but also hinders the ability for children to find homes. GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Vice President of Programs Zeke Stokes has called the bill “heartless” and “un-American.” He said that passage of the bill would in effect write LGBT discrimination into law.
Seven other states have passed similar legislation. Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas passed the same type of laws last year. ABC News reported in March on a similar proposal in Georgia. In response to that bill, Hollywood said they would boycott the state. Supporters of that bill said it would draw more religious adoption agencies to the state, which would result in the adoption of more children. Opponents of the measure argued that the opposite was true. They believed that allowing agencies to deny adoption to people who don’t fit written religious and moral criteria results in fewer adoptions because it decreases the number of people who are eligible to adopt children.