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Tennessee House passes bill to permit anti-gay adoption discrimination

Nick Duffy April 4, 2019
The Tennessee state capitol

The Tennessee state capitol (Creative Commons/Ichabod)

The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow adoption providers to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

On Monday (April 1), lawmakers in the chamber voted by 67-22 along party lines in favour of a bill which would permit adoption and foster care agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples.

The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, would allow adoption agencies to refuse to “perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption” based on an individual’s “religious or moral convictions.”

Tennesee could become latest state with anti-LGBT adoption law

If the law also passes the state senate and is signed by governor Bill Lee, it would make Tennessee the latest in a string of states to have passed near-identical ‘freedom to discriminate’ adoption laws.

Similar legislation is already on the books in Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

Rudd told The Tennessean that the intent of the bill is to protect faith-based adoption agencies from “frivolous lawsuits,” though no such cases exist in Tennessee, and the state has no LGBT non-discrimination law to begin with.

Tennessee Republican lawmaker Tim Rudd sponsored the bill
Tennessee Republican lawmaker Tim Rudd sponsored the bill

The lawmaker said: “We’re doing the same as nine other states have done.

“Throughout the country, these faith-based organisations have been sued to the point they’re being driven out of business due to costs.”

According to the newspaper, the bill is “copycat legislation” that was backed by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation nationally as part of a nationwide conservative evangelical operation.

Tennessee faces boycott threats over anti-LGBT adoption bill

The legislation has led for calls for Amazon to abandon plans to build a hub in Tennessee.

The “No Gay? No Way!” campaign has called on the tech giant to make clear to Tennessee’s political leaders that it would not proceed with plans for an operations centre in Nashville if the bill becomes law.

A statement said: “As the Tennessee Legislature passes HB 836, the state is taking another step towards new forms of anti-LGBT discrimination, and Amazon- soon to be one of the city and states largest employers – remains silent.

“Amazon must get off the sidelines and exercise their influence to stop the anti-LGBT laws being considered. These laws impact real people: the future Amazon employees, their families and customers.

“Sitting idly by while the legislature attacks LGBT Tennesseans is not an option, and is an affront to the values that the company claims to support.”

More: Tennessee, US

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