Indeed, Oklahoma has become the first state to enact an anti-LGBT law this year. Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill that allows taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to discriminate LGBT parents based on their "religious freedom".
Fallin said that she had decided to sign SB 1140 into law “after many hours of consideration and investigation of Oklahoma’s current practice.”
“SB 1140 allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs,” she said. “In a day and time when diversity is becoming a core value to society because it will lead to more options, we should recognize its value for serving Oklahoma also because it leads to more options for loving homes to serve Oklahoma children.”
She, of course, denied that this measure is discriminatory:
“It does not ban same-sex adoption or foster care in Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “Instead, the bill will help continue Oklahoma’s successful placement of children with a broad array of loving families and basically maintain the status quo by setting forth in statute practices which have successfully worked for the best interest of Oklahoma children.”
It's totally wrong! Not only the adoption agencies are free to discriminate LGBT parents but they could also push LGBT children they are caring for to follow a "conversion" therapy (also known as "ex-gay" therapies).
LGBT rights activists have criticized the decision. JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said:
“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.”
Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, also said he was "deeply disappointed" by the signing and is “more concerned about the children – desperately looking for homes – that will be harmed by this disgraceful legislation. And the countless young people who will be stigmatized by state-sanctioned hate."
Stevenson added, “Make no mistake, we will fight for the most vulnerable Oklahomans targeted by this law.”
A complaint will be filed to challenge this new legislation in Oklahoma.
As for Kansas, Governor Jeff Colyer signed the religious freedom bill. This one also allows publicly funded adoption agencies to refuse to place children in LGBT families. Again, this law could enable adoption agencies to force LGBT children to follow "conversion therapies".
“Kansas lawmakers, from the legislature to the governor, are clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate against their own constituents than it is to find loving homes for children in need,” said JoDee Winterhof. “Make no mistake: this law will harm the kids, families, and reputation of this state.”
CEO of Freedom for All Americans Masen Davis also said in a statement that the legislation “will hurt kids in Kansas who are in need of safe, loving homes.”
“It’s dangerous and irresponsible to enact laws that will impact LGBTQ families and kids, and that prevent perfectly qualified same-sex couples and others from starting families,” Davis said. “These types of laws have one purpose, and one purpose only: to advance discrimination against LGBTQ people, no matter the cost.”
The Kansas and Oklahoma bills are opposed to major child protection agencies. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, a group of 50 religious leaders from Kansas and 39 national and statewide faith organizations have all signed a letter in opposition to the measures.
Oklahoma becomes the eighth state, and Kansas the ninth, to pass a law that allows adoption agencies to deny placements of children with LGBT parents based on their "religious freedom". Other states that have already approved such measures are Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.
ACLU is challenging the Michigan law and another challenge has been launched in Oklahoma.