The state of Tennessee passed a bill recently that would essentially stop gay couples from adopting children. The bill, technically, proposes protection to faith-based foster care and adoption agencies if they choose to exclude LGBTQ+ parents from adopting children, and the impact of this bill is the continued marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community.
This is particularly problematic in the state because the majority of Tennessee’s population is religious, in particular, Christian.
The State Senate passed the bill on the first day of the 2020 legislative session, and it was approved by Tennessee’s House of Representatives during the last legislative session. After the bill was passed by the Senate, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a few days ago that he would sign the bill into law without hesitation, despite several warnings that doing so could possibly result in negative consequences for Tennessee’s reputation.
Other states, including Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia, Mississippi, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Kansas have all proposed similar bills.
Proponents argue that, on a national level, such laws protect the religious beliefs of certain groups and safeguard them from potential lawsuits.
However, critics of the legislation say that the bill attacks the rights of the members of LGBTQ+ community, and it limits the pool of potential parents who would adopt children and give them a chance to be a part of a loving and nurturing family.
Counsel and director of Lambda Legal, Currey Cook, said that 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 it has to expand the family home options for children who cannot safely return to their families of origin. Children who need homes should NOT suffer as part of the efforts of some people to restrict the human rights of LGBTQ+ families.
However, the Senators present during the debate and consequent vote did not think the same, and Republican Senators stood unopposed bar the four Democrats of the Tennessee Senate.