The state of Tennessee may severely complicate and hinder its child custody system by passing an adoption bill that would prevent gay parents from taking a child in.
Bill that stops gay couples from adopting has First Amendment and civil rights implications
Critics claim that the recent actions would give priority to faith based parenting programs over more neutral solutions. Tax dollars are also being funneled into faith based parenting, which may possibly be a violation of the separation of church and state that is crucial to American law and the constitutional rights of citizens.
The bill passed in a fairly quiet session and it was the first of its kind in Tennessee this year. The state’s Republican governor believes that the bill will actually protect religious liberty for certain groups. The governor has made it known that he is a Christian several times during his tenure and seems to be influenced by the religion during his administration.
The new law is not expected to immediately change any adoption practices in the state, or relocate children who already living with same sex couples. There had been faith based adoption agencies that refused to allow gay couples to adopt children, and the new bill would protect them from lawsuits and other actions that attempt to stop those practices. Tennessee’s American Civil Rights Union spoke out about these practices due to the potential for a kind of religious test to be used as a guideline as to whether couples could adopt or not. This is a potential violation of the nation’s separation of church and state laws, as legal decision is being made based on a religious belief.
These types of laws are not totally new either. Other states have made a point of enacting similar laws. Kansas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and Virginia are just a small number of the states who have comparable laws on the books. Michigan belonged to this group until a lawsuit from the ACLU forced them to change the discriminatory practice and the state agreed to not consider any factors related to religion in adoption cases or custody.
A Tennessee Senator who was actually the sponsor of the bill admitted that it was probably unnecessary at this point in time. There is also the possibility of redundancy, as the Trump administration was already in the process of passing a federal law that would do essentially the same thing. The Tennessee politicians admitted that the law was essentially passed as a safeguard in case Donald Trump is not reelected.
A previous rule from the Obama administration said that adoption agencies could not be federally funded if they discriminated based on religion.
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