A recent bill signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee allows faith-based adoption agencies to refuse adoptions to same-sex couples. It is a bill not unlike those found in many other states, and is modeled after laws that came before it.
Despite some strong support from the head of Tennessee’s government, HB0836, which is described as a bill protecting religious freedom, has received backlash from many.
Votes for the bill were largely along party lines in the state Senate, with one Republican Senator voting ‘no’ and five voting ‘present’. All Senate Democrats voted against the measure. In the House, it passed with 67 votes for it, and 22 against, with three members declining to vote.
State Sen. Steve Dickerson voted against the bill, going against party lines to do so. One of his arguments against the bill was the possibility of economic fallout, warning that Tennessee may be snubbed for major events by the NFL, NCAA, and NHL, not unlike the backlash that came after North Carolina passed House Bill 2 in 2016.
“I think we can probably kiss that goodbye,” said Dickerson of the possible events.
According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), 3.5% of Tennessee’s adult population, or approximately 184,000 people, are part of the LGBT community. This bill would affect a not-insignificant amount of them, as MAP states that approximately 26% of LGBT individuals in the state are raising children.
2016 marked a historic moment for LGBT people: Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children was struck down by a federal judge. In all 50 states, it is now legal for same-sex couples to adopt children.
According to Representative John Ray Clemmons, one of the members of the bill’s opposition, the bill hurts children. “Why are we wanting to do anything to prohibit a loving couple or family of any denomination, any religion, any moral conviction from being able to care for a child and provide for it?”
“We have got to stop discriminating against people,” he went on to say. “We have gone far enough.”
Federally, there is no law like HB0836, but that may change as the Trump administration proposes their own similar law that may eventually take place.