Religious freedom or discrimination?
They are two very different passionate views about an adoption bill passed by the Tennessee House that is now scheduled for Senate committees.
“For several years now, we have seen a really major uptick in LGBTQ legislation that has been passed,” said Cathryn Oakley of the Tennessee Human Rights Coalition as she opened a news conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
One bill, in particular, is an adoption bill.
Language in it “prohibits a private licensed child-placing agency from being required” to “participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”
LGBTQ advocates call those words discriminatory. Not so, says Senate sponsor Mark Pody.
“In this case, they (LGBTQ community) can adopt from many, many organizations,” Pody told News 2. “These adoption agencies are faith-based, and they want to stand up for their religious values.
Members of the LGBTQ community who gathered for the Tuesday news conference see something else in the adoption bill besides religious freedom.
The faith-based adoption agencies in question would be able to receive state grants and contracts says Chris Sanders, who heads the Tennessee Equality Project.
“State grants and contracts are nothing but taxpayer funds that would go to these agencies that could then turn away some of the citizens paying taxes to support them,” said Sanders.
The sponsor says the bill is not about the exclusion of certain communities.
“They can go to 90% of the places available in Tennessee, but for those who say ‘here is where we believe, we want to provide this service, and we want to stand up for our beliefs,’ I think that is fine.”
When Governor Bill Lee was asked about the bill Tuesday, he said: “I’ll have more to say about it in the coming days.”