On Tuesday, Tennessee’s State Senate gave its final approval to a bill permitting adoption agencies with specific “written religious or moral convictions or policies” to discriminate against LGBTQ couples applying as prospective parents. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, is expected to sign the legislation into law.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the bill, sponsored by Republican State Senator Paul Rose, passed the Senate by a vote of 20-6. The State House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill by a count of 67-22 in April.
Per the Times Free Press:
As approved, it says “to the extent allowed by federal law, no private licensed child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The bill has been condemned by the Tennessee Equality Project, which advocates for the LGBT community, as a being a part of a “slate of hate” package of measures pushed by socially conservative GOP lawmakers.
That slate includes several apparent attacks on the LGBTQ community, including a bill that would allow state mental health counselors to come up with their own “ethical code” that could permit them to reject clients who were at odds with their “sincerely held beliefs,” in addition to a so-called “bathroom bill” that would require trans students to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Interestingly, Tennessee’s Senate Republican speaker, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, voiced opposition to the bill, saying it could pose problems for the state’s Freedom of Religion Act further down the line. Several other Republican lawmakers had concerns, including one who worried Tennessee could face a boycott over the bill. It still passed, and now children at faith-based adoption agencies will be the ones forced to suffer.