Two bills filed in the Tennessee General Assembly could allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples on religious grounds.
Republican senator Joey Hensley and representative John Ragan lodged one of the bills, SB0848, which calls for adoption agencies to be allowed to deny a gay couples if it conflicts with the business’ “sincerely held religious beliefs,” reports The Tennessean.
Another bill—HB0836—filed by Republican representative Tim Rudd, also proposes allowing foster agencies to turn away same-sex couples on religious objections.
Tennessee bills could block same-sex adoption on religious grounds
Speaking to The Tennessean, Hensley, a member of the Pentecostal Church of God, said: “I don’t think a gay couple is the best environment for children.
“Certainly, legally, they can adopt children and they can have children, but I think every child needs a mother and a father.
“The best environment is a mother and a father.”
“I don’t think a gay couple is the best environment for children.”
—Senator Joey Hensley
Hensley, who adopted three children with his now ex-wife, defended being a single parent.
“That’s not the best situation for children, but I try to make the best of it,” he told The Tennessean.
The introduction of the bills comes just a few weeks since the Trump administration approved South Carolina’s Republican Governor Henry McMaster’s request to allow religious foster agencies in the state to turn away LGBT+ people.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, the new attorney general Dana Nessel, a lesbian, has pledged to settle a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples who claim that religious adoption agencies have discriminated against them.
In 2007, Tennessee’s attorney general ruled that there were no statutes prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children.
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told The Tennessean that the new bills are “not motivated by the welfare of children,” but by a “desire to discriminate.”
“If there were some issue, all the people who are involved in same-sex relationships who are parents through other means, not adoption, would not be fit, but the studies don’t show that,” he added.
Studies show children adopted or raised by same-sex parents have happy lives
Multiple studies have shown that children brought up by same-sex parents lead happy lives.
Earlier this month, research surveying the school performance of children in the Netherlands indicated that kids raised by same-sex couples achieved better test results.
And, in July, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that kids raised by same-sex parents were just as happy as those raised by straight parents.