Tennessee House passes bill allowing adoption groups to refuse service to LGBT couples

A Tennessee bill that would give adoption groups in the state the ability to deny services to LGBT couples passed the state House on Monday.

The bill passed the GOP-controlled House by a 67-22 vote largely on party lines, according to the Associated Press.

Sponsored by state Rep. Tim Rudd (R), the bill would stop an adoption agency in the state from being “required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions.”

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Current adoption practices in the state would reportedly not change if the bill were to become law. Advocates say the legislation is needed to protect faith-based adoption agencies should they decide not to allow LGBT couples to adopt.

Several other states have similar laws in place, including Kansas and Oklahoma, both of which passed similar legislation last year, according to the AP.

“We’re doing the same as nine other states have done,” Rudd said. “Throughout the country, these faith-based organizations have been sued to the point they’re being driven out of business due to costs.”

Some opposing the bill, including state Rep. John Ray Clemons (D), argue the legislation would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation and limit the number of families who could take in children.

“We have children across this state looking for loving homes, why are we doing anything to prohibit a loving family or a couple from being able to care of a child and take it in and provide for it, why?” Clemmons asked Rudd during a floor debate.

The bill must pass the Republican-controlled state Senate before going to Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) desk for a signature to become law.

The AP noted Lee has not indicated publicly whether or not he plans to sign the legislation should it reach his desk.