Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, even those with state contracts, to turn away prospective parents who pose a conflict with their religious beliefs.
Opponents of the legislation, Senate Bill 1140, have warned that it means discrimination against same-sex couples, LGBT individuals, single parents, people of different faiths, and more. Gov. Mary Fallin, a conservative Republican, signed it into law Friday afternoon.
Fallin issued a statement saying the bill will “basically maintain the status quo” and “will not be in any way restricting current practice allowing LGBTQ individuals and couples fostering or adopting,” Tulsa TV station KTUL reports. It simply, she said, “allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs.”
But those beliefs often declare LGBT people and many others to be unfit parents. “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,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, in a press release. “With this action, Oklahoma has the negative distinction of being the only state[s] 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 Gov. 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,” added 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 Gov. Fallin and the lawmakers who championed this travesty is simple: We’ll see you in court!”
Kansas lawmakers have recently passed a similar bill that is awaiting the signature of Gov. Jeff Colyer, who has expressed support for it.