Religious adoption criteria backed
Senate passes bill allowing religious groups to discriminate against same-sex couples
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would let religious organizations discriminate against same-sex couples in the adoption and foster care process.
The measure, Senate Bill 1140, passed by a vote of 35-9 and heads to the House for consideration.
It states, “To the extent allowed by federal law, no private 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.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is the author.
He said the measure would increase the number of adoptions in the state.
It would allow agencies that have statements of faith to still be able to contract with the state to provide much needed homes for adoptions and foster care, Treat said.
Treat said the measure would get more participants into the system and would not preclude anyone from participating.
Treat said the measure would stop the discrimination against faith-based organizations from participating.
“Bills such as SB 1140 are a clear attempt to solve a `problem' that simply doesn't exist while enshrining anti-LGBTQ discrimination into law,” said Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.
Treat disagreed with descriptions that the measure sanctioned discrimination against same-sex couples.
The measure is supported by Oklahoma's Catholic bishops and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
“All the bill does is simply codifies the right of faith-based adoption agencies to continue to operate according to their religious principles,” said Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma. “It does not create a new right that does not already exist in state law.”
The measure says the entities can't be sued for continuing what they are already do-
Bills such as SB 1140 are a clear attempt to solve a `problem' that simply doesn't exist ...” Marty Rouse Human Rights Campaign
ing, he said.
“It creates a protection against Farley said.
Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said the ironic thing about the bill is that it purports to protect faith-based organizations from lawsuits that have never been filed.
The bill now will probably draw a lawsuit about the language and practice, Floyd said.
“It is unsafe to pass laws just because of personal beliefs that may discriminate against others doing something that is not illegal,” said Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa.
Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, said every time people find a way to exclude groups, especially in something as pro-family as adoption, they are on the wrong side of history.
“If you are pro-family, it is difficult if not impossible to vote for this bill,” he said.
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office detective Ricardo Vaca has fake blood put on his hands for his role as a suspect in a mock homicide scene.