Re­li­gious adop­tion cri­te­ria backed

Se­nate passes bill al­low­ing re­li­gious groups to dis­crim­i­nate against same-sex cou­ples

Tulsa World - - Metro&region - By Bar­bara Hoberock

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.

MIKE SI­MONS/Tulsa World

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.

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