Photo Credits: Family Education
After Kansas and Oklahoma, which enacted similar laws last year, Tennessee is close to become the latest state to allow adoption agencies to turn away gay parents and other families because of their religious beliefs. This bill has already passed the House with solid majority of votes (67-22) in support of the proposal and now it must pass the Senate. Both the House and the Senate are "controlled" by Republican majority and it can be expected that the bill is going to pas the Senate before reaching Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, for final approval. Lee has not yet made it clear whether he supports the legislation, but his political career is marked by his religious faith.
The idea behind this move is to protect faith-based adoption agencies in Tennessee against potential lawsuits directed towards the group's religious beliefs. Some faith-based adoption agencies already do not allow gay couples to adopt and, if the proposal becomes law, this practice is going to be legally covered and agencies that act like this are going to be protected. There will be no legal basis for those who have been refused because of religious belief or moral conviction to file a lawsuit against agencies. "We're doing the same as nine other states have done," said Republican Rep. Tim Rudd of Murfreesboro, the bill's sponsor, as Fox News reports. "Throughout the country, these faith-based organizations have been sued to the point they're being driven out of business due to costs."
Many Catholic Charities adoption services across the United States, for example in Washington D.C. and San Francisco have stopped handling adoptions over concerns they would be required to act against their religious beliefs. On the other hand, lawmakers are trying to provide legal protection for those agencies in other states. They have already succeeded to provide that protection in nine states.
Opponents of this practice are stating that the measure will allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT families, single-parents and non-Christians based on religious beliefs or moral conviction. "We have children across this state looking for loving homes, why are we doing anything to prohibit a loving family or a couple from being able to care for a child and take it in and provide for it, why?" said Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, according to Fox News, after a brief back and forth with Tim Rudd over the bill's purpose.
This bill will allow agencies to prevent primarily same-sex couples to adopt and provide children with needed care despite the fact that same-sex couples are nearly three times as likely to adopt as heterosexual couples. Adoption agencies should do their best in order to help children and parents during the adoption process. By discriminating some parents, they are doing the opposite.