The bill discriminates against LGBTQ+ parents and leaves thousands of children in need of loving homes completely stranded.
The Bible Belt has been on a roll as of late, attempting to strip American citizens of their human rights. Most recently, the state of Tennessee passed a bill that would essentially stop same-gender parents from adopting children if they wished to become parents. Technically, the bill proposes protection to faith-based foster care and adoption agencies if they choose to exclude LGBTQ+ parents from adopting children, NBC News reports. Nonetheless, the impact of such a bill is the continued marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community. This is especially problematic as the majority of Tennessee's population is religious, in particular, Christian. Over 80 percent of the residents in the state are some form of Christian.
The State Senate (at present controlled by the Republican Party) passed the oppressive bill on the first day of the 2020 legislative session. It was approved by Tennessee's House of Representatives during the last legislative session, in April. After the Senate passed the bill, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced on Tuesday that he would sign the bill into law without hesitation, despite several warnings that doing so could possibly result in dozens of "negative consequences for Tennessee’s reputation." Governor Lee’s communication director, Chris Walker, confirmed on Tuesday that he plans to sign the resolution shortly.
STATEMENT from @SenAkbari on @PaulRoseTN’s anti-LGBT adoption bill, which passed today and is headed to @GovBillLee’s desk:— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) January 15, 2020
“Tennessee deserves better than these politics of division.” 🎯🏳️🌈🗣 pic.twitter.com/Zwp6I1JiPZ
Tennessee is not the first state to introduce such a problematic piece of legislation. In the past, several states, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia, Mississippi, and Michigan have all proposed similar bills. At the national level, proponents argue that such laws protect the religious beliefs of certain groups and safeguard them from potential lawsuits. However, critics of the legislation contend that the bill attacks the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, it limits the pool of potential parents who could give children looking for forever homes the chance to be part of a loving and nurturing family.
there are approximately 7,500 children in foster care and around 350 children in full guardianship (available for adoption) in Tennessee who don't have an identified adoptive home. Approximately 1,000 children age out of care in Tennessee every year. That's 1k without a family. https://t.co/TF1lpDicwg pic.twitter.com/LKROiPUnkP— Edwin 🏳️🌈 (@Edwinw_1997) January 14, 2020
Currey Cook, counsel and director of Lambda Legal, asserted, "The foster care system is at a critical juncture where it is required by new federal law to reduce the number of children placed in harmful group homes and to expand family home options for children who cannot safely return to their family of origin. Children who need more homes, not fewer, should not suffer as part of efforts to chip away at equality for LGBTQ+ families." Sadly, this logic was lost on the Senators present during the debate and consequent vote. Republican Senators stood unopposed bar the four Democrats of the Tennessee Senate and one Republican Senator, Steve Dickerson. He joked while debating the bill, "We are off to a fine start this session." It is unclear if the recent criticism will help Governor Lee rethink his decision to sign the bill into law.
Lawmakers in Tennessee passed a measure that would grant private adoption agencies permission to deny LGBTQ couples adoption rights due to a so-called “religious exemption.”— GLAAD (@glaad) January 16, 2020
Add your name to demand Governor Bill Lee veto this discriminatory bill: https://t.co/y9CYUiQ2C9 pic.twitter.com/2CIV2kPfc0