Governors in both Alabama and Tennessee recently signed bills into law that legalize discrimination against hopeful adoptive families. These laws could not only allow discrimination toward certain families, but they could also jeopardize their ability to obtain state benefits.
"In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law on Wednesday House Bill 24, which is titled the 'Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,' but instead of encouraging child placement it would permit agencies to deny placement of children into LGBT households [or any family that violates the religious beliefs of the adoption organization in question]." This completely misleading and falsely named bill does absolutely nothing to increase adoption rates, rather it narrows the possibility of adoption by allowing faith-based adoption agencies to deny adoption rights to families that may be completely perfect families, other than the fact that the agency may "disagree" with something regarding the families make-up, notably LGBT families.
The law disallows the state from "refusing to license or renew the license" of any adoption agencies which cite religious beliefs when refusing child placements, protecting faith-based groups from retaliation for discriminating against families when choosing prospecting parents. Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia and North Dakota have all passed similar legislation. Unlike states like South Dakota, Alabama’s law would only apply to private agencies that do not accept federal or state funds.
"Kasey Suffredini, chief programs officer for Freedom for All Americans, was among those who criticized Ivey for signing the bill in a statement.
'The first priority of lawmakers should be the safety and wellbeing of children, especially those who are in need of safe and loving homes,'
Suffredini said. 'It is shameful that Gov. Ivey and lawmakers in Alabama would jeopardize those chances in order to advance discrimination against LGBT people.'"
"'This bill obviously came about because same-sex marriage was approved,' state Rep. Patricia Todd said, per AL.com. 'It's based in[sic] a stereotype, and it's wrong. And we shouldn't discriminate and I will always fight that.'"
The discrimination continues in Tennessee with a bill that Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law on Friday, House Bill 1111, which requires undefined words in Tennessee state law, such as gender pronouns, be enforced under their “natural” meaning. Many believe that could set up the state for conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, should Tennessee implement a new law to deny benefits to same-sex couples.
Defending his decision to sign the law, Haslam denied the measure would conflict with the Obergefell decision.
"Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said despite Haslam’s assurance the new law would have a negative impact on LGBT families in Tennessee."
"It’s not the first time Haslam has signed into law an anti-LGBT measure. Last year, the governor signed Senate Bill 1556, which provides immunity under state law to counselors who object to care based on 'sincerely held principles,' including refusal to treat patients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."