Oklahoma Passes Law That May Limit Gay Adoptions
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UPDATED: Jul 31, 2018
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Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that some say will allow private adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ couples.
As the New York Times reports,
The law would allow the agencies to choose not to place children in certain homes if it “would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
Under the new law,
To the extent allowed by federal law, no private childplacing 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.
Critics of the law charge that it’s unconstitutional and will harm children by restricting the number of families in which they can be placed.
Supporters of the law say that it will protect agencies that help children. Supporters included the Archbishop of Oklahoma City and the Bishop of Tulsa, who said the law will increase the availability of adoption services.
Governor Fallin said out that that the law would not ban adoption or foster care by same-sex couples.
However, LGBTQ advocates point out that religious groups may be the only types of entities providing adoption and foster care services in some areas, so that the law could effectively ban same-sex adoption in those areas.
Oklahoma is now one of eight states with similar laws.
Denise Brogan-Kator, the chief policy officer for the Family Equality Council, stated that the underlying message behind these laws is “We don’t want L.G.B.T.Q. people raising children.”
She said that Oklahoma already has enough adoption and foster care agencies. What it lacks is enough parents willing to adopt and foster children.
Fear and Hysteria
According to Allie Shinn, of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter of Oklahoma, the only purpose of the law is to
shortsightedly advance the careers of politicians who are more interested in exploiting a culture of fear and hysteria than they are in effectively governing.
Although the US Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the US Constitution provides for a right to same-sex marriage, laws affecting same-sex couples still vary from state to state.
For example, Maryland and Massachusetts prohibit adoption agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
South Dakota, on the other hand, allows religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children in living situations that violate the agency’s religious beliefs.
According to a South Dakota state senator, if religious groups were forced to let same-sex parents adopt, they might stop providing adoption services rather than comply.
In 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled that an adoption valid in one state must also be recognized by other states.
In the 2016 case, two women in a long-term relationship had had three children via donor insemination. The non-biological mother adopted the children in Georgia. When the women broke up, the biological mother tried to prevent her former partner from getting visitation in Alabama, arguing that the Georgia adoption was invalid there.
The case went to the Alabama Supreme Court, which issued an order refusing to recognize the Georgia adoption.
The Alabama decision ignored a century of precedent under which states recognized adoptions from other states.
The US Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Alabama Supreme Court decision.