Gov. Fallin signs bill approving taxpayer funded discrimination in Oklahoma

The Gayly graphic.

By Jordan Redman
Staff Writer

SB1140, a bill that would allow religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, single people and non-Christians while still receiving government funding has been signed by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

“After many hours of consideration and investigation of Oklahoma’s current practice, I note the aggressive efforts that have been made since I have been governor and the substantial progress made in finding more temporary and permanent placements for deserving children, reducing by 21 percent the number of children in state custody. This improvement is due in large part to the successful public-private partnership of more than 50 agencies, some of which are faith-based.

“Under Senate Bill 1140, the state will not be in any way restricting current practice allowing LGBTQ individuals and couples fostering or adopting. It does not ban same-sex adoption or foster care in Oklahoma. Instead, the bill will help continue Oklahoma’s successful placement of children with a broad array of loving families and basically maintain the status quo by setting forth in statute practices which have successfully worked for the best interest of Oklahoma children. I also note that the bill mirrors very similar legislation in Virginia, which has been on the books since 2012 without any court challenges. Since then, five additional states have passed similar legislation. Kansas also has a similar bill before its governor.

“SB 1140 allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs. In a day and time when diversity is becoming a core value to society because it will lead to more options, we should recognize its value for serving Oklahoma also because it leads to more options for loving homes to serve Oklahoma children. Other states that have declined the protection to faith-based agencies have seen these agencies close their doors, leaving less options for successful placement of children who need loving parents.

“Finally, I remain committed to preserving the rights of all Oklahomans who are eligible and want to be considered for parenting. Therefore, I plan to direct the Department of Human Services, by executive order, to immediately publish a list of Oklahoma adoption and foster agencies on its website who are willing to serve everyone who meets the Department of Human Services criteria for being a foster or adoptive parent.”

Section one of SB 1140 says, "To the extent allowed by federal law, no private child placing 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." 

The bill originally made it through Senate with a vote of 35-9 on March 13, 2018.

It then passed in the House Judiciary Committee with 13 yeas and 6 nays on April 11, 2018.

The bill passed in Committee after Rep. Osborn (R) introduced an amendment to deny state and federal funding to any agency that discriminates.

Rep. Dunlap (R) then introduced another amendment to reverse Osborn's amendment. "By deleting 'receiving neither federal nor state funds,' says Dunlap's amendment.

Rep. Obsorn (R) motioned to table Dunlap's amendment. The motion passed on the House floor.

Rep. Osborn's amendment to deny state and federal funding to any child placing agency that discriminates remained in place.

The bill passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on April 26, 2018.

The has since been reverted back to its original language that would allow the use of state and federal tax dollars to discriminate in adoption.

It went before a special committee appointed by Sen.Treat (R).

It was signed out of committee by Sen.Treat (R), Sen.Dahm (R), Sen. Brecheen (R) and Sen. Daniels (R). Sen. Pittman (D) and Sen. Dossett (D) were the only nay votes.

The bill then went to the Senate, again. Where it passed 33-7.

Following the Senate vote, the bill passed in the House 56-21.

Gov. Fallin signed it on May 11, 2018.

Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, who successfully challenged Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage in 2014, said "Thank you, Governor Mary Fallin, for once again telling LGBTQ Oklahomans -- both the families willing to adopt or foster children in need of homes and the young people and children languishing in state shelters because too few homes are available -- that the bigots' right to discriminate against us -- AND TO USE OUR MONEY TO DO IT -- is more important than moral decency. You disgust me, and I hope that when this law is declared unconstitutional, we can all send the bill straight to you. Good riddance to bad rubbish, Governor. You've done enough harm to Oklahoma."

The signing of SB1140 makes Oklahoma the first state to pass an anti-LGBT+ measure in 2018.

The Gayly. May 11, 2018. 6:20 p.m. CST.