Oklahoma Passes Law That May Limit Gay Adoptions

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that  some say will allow private adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ couples.

As the New York Times reports,

 The law would allow the agencies to choose not to place children in certain homes if it “would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

Under the new law,

 To the extent allowed by federal law, no private childplacing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.

Unconstitutional?

Critics of the law charge that it's unconstitutional and will harm children by restricting the number of families in which they can be placed.

Supporters  of the law say that  it will protect  agencies that  help children. Supporters included the  Archbishop  of Oklahoma City  and the Bishop  of Tulsa, who said the law will  increase the availability of adoption services.

Governor Fallin said out that that the law would not ban adoption or foster  care by same-sex couples.

However, LGBTQ advocates point out that religious groups may be the only types of entities providing adoption and  foster care  services in some  areas, so that the law could effectively ban same-sex adoption in those areas.

Oklahoma  is now one of eight states  with  similar  laws.

Denise Brogan-Kator, the chief policy officer for the Family Equality Council, stated that the underlying message  behind these  laws is "We don’t want L.G.B.T.Q. people raising children.”

She  said that  Oklahoma  already has enough adoption and  foster care agencies. What  it  lacks is  enough parents willing to adopt  and foster children.

Fear and Hysteria

According  to Allie Shinn, of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter of Oklahoma, the  only purpose of the law  is to

shortsightedly advance the careers of politicians who are more interested in exploiting a culture of fear and hysteria than they are in effectively governing.

Although the US Supreme Court  ruled in 2015 that the US Constitution provides for a right to  same-sex  marriage, laws affecting same-sex couples still vary  from state to state.

For example, Maryland and Massachusetts  prohibit  adoption agencies  from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

South Dakota, on the  other hand, allows religious adoption agencies to  refuse to place children in living situations that  violate the  agency's religious  beliefs.

According  to a South Dakota  state senator, if  religious groups were forced to let same-sex  parents adopt, they might stop providing adoption services rather than comply.

Out-of-State

In 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled that an adoption valid in one state must also be recognized by other states.

In the 2016 case, two women in a long-term relationship had had three children via donor insemination. The  non-biological mother adopted the children in Georgia. When the women broke up, the biological mother tried  to prevent her  former partner from getting  visitation  in Alabama, arguing that the Georgia adoption was invalid there.

The case went  to the Alabama Supreme  Court, which issued  an order refusing  to recognize the Georgia adoption.

The Alabama decision ignored a century of precedent under which states recognized adoptions from other states.

The US Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Alabama Supreme Court decision.

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