Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that would allow child welfare organizations — including adoption and foster care agencies — to turn away qualified Oklahomans seeking to care for a child in need late last night.
LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection, can now be legally turned away.
The best interests of the child is less important than the religious beliefs of social workers now in Oklahoma.
Supporters of the bill stressed that the state’s foster care system is “overloaded.”
While most people would think this is an argument in favor of maximizing the number of available parents to take children in, supporters say that religious agencies will take their ball and go home instead of placing kids in decent homes that violate the agencies’ “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Opponents said that the bill would allow discrimination based on anti-LGBTQ hatred.
The bill is “discriminatory, harmful to youth and completely unnecessary,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma.
“It is shameful that Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a patently discriminatory law that targets children,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign.
“Gov. Fallin has cemented her legacy, siding with discrimination and the legislature in throwing kids under the bus to create a ‘license to discriminate’ against LGBTQ Oklahomans. With this action, Oklahoma has the negative distinction of being the only state to sign an anti-LGBTQ bill into law this year. Oklahoma’s leaders must live with that, and live with the reputational fallout that it may bring. This is wrong.”
“While we are deeply disappointed that Governor Fallin choose to sign discrimination into law, we are more concerned about the children – desperately looking for homes – that will be harmed by this disgraceful legislation,” said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma.
“And the countless young people who will be stigmatized by state sanctioned hate. Make no mistake, we will fight for the most vulnerable Oklahomans targeted by this law. Our message to Governor Fallin, and the lawmakers who championed this travesty is simple: we’ll see you in court!”
“Plain and simple, Governor Fallin and Oklahoma Republicans are discriminating against LGBTQ parents. Rather than focusing on empowering families or uniting children with loving parents, Governor Fallin and Oklahoma Republicans want to strip qualified potential parents of their ability to provide for a child in need,” DNC LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said.
“With over 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, including more than 16,000 in Oklahoma alone, the Oklahoma legislature should be focusing on how it can attract more qualified and loving parents to the system – not rejecting potential homes based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of the parents.”
South Dakota, Michigan, Alabama, and Texas already have similar legislation.