The Oklahoma Senate passed a controversial bill Tuesday that would grant religious organizations the ability to discriminate against same-sex couples who are looking to adopt children or participate in the foster care system.
Senate Bill 1140 now heads to the House for a vote.
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, authored the bill and claims its implementation will lead to more adoptions, because faith-based organizations will still be allowed to contract with the state.
Rather than open the door for discrimination against same-sex couples, Treat says the measure will stop discrimination against the participation of religious organizations.
Oklahoma’s Catholic bishops and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma agree.
“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.
Farley also said the measure ensures that religious organizations will not be sued for doing business the way they are already doing it and should not be understood to "create a new right that does not already exist in state law.”
But the bill also has detractors:
“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.
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.
“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.