Tennessee governor signs bill allowing state adoption agencies to reject gay couples
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Friday signed a measure that allows adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex parents, drawing backlash from gay-rights advocates.
The law, which goes into effect immediately, protects adoption agencies who believe placement of a child in a same-sex home would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies,” The Tennessean reported.
“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty,” Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson told the outlet. “This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”
The bill also prohibits the state from denying an agency’s licenses or grant applicants for public funds based on its child placement refusals.
The measure, which previously passed the state House last April, passed the Tennessee Senate 20-6 earlier this month.
State Sen. Steve Dickerson was the lone Republican who voted against the measure, along with the Senate’s five Democrats. An additional five GOP senators did not vote.
The measure was endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission but vocally opposed by LGBTQ rights groups, including the Tennessee Equality Project and the national group Lambda Legal.
“Shame on @GovBillLee for signing it into law,” LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD wrote on Twitter.
This makes private adoption agencies that deny LGBTQ couples adoption rights due to a so-called “religious exemptions” eligible for state funding in Tennessee.
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 24, 2020