Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Trying To Keep Children Away From Loving LGBT Parents. And It’s Working

SB 1140 is "nothing more than the modern 21st century version of Jim Crows laws," says Rep. Collin Walke.

A bill that would allow Oklahoma adoption agencies to turn away LGBT parents is getting closer and closer to becoming law: SB 1140 passed the House of Representatives by a large 60-25 margin on Thursday and now returns to the Senate for final consideration.

In its current form, SB 1140 protects child-placement agencies that don’t receive government funding from being forced to place children with adoptive or foster parents who “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” It also shields such agencies from any sanctions for their discrimination.

Rep. Collin Walke (D-Oklahoma City) called the measure “nothing more than the modern 21st century version of Jim Crows laws.”

While it could be used to deny single mothers and interfaith couples, critics insist SB 1140 is squarely aimed at same-sex couples. “If you didn’t intend to discriminate against same-sex couples with this bill, why did you run it?” asked Rep. Forrest Bennett, (D-Oklahoma City).

 

Currently agencies aren’t barred from discriminating against same-sex parents in Oklahoma, where there are nearly 10,000 children in the foster system. But supporters worry they might be in the future: Rep. Travis Dunlap, (R-Bartlesville), who sponsored the bill in the House, says it would also protect agencies that felt obligated to place children with same-sex families. “When we see this protection go into place, we see increased child placements,” Dunlap said.

GLAAD’s Zeke Stokes called SB 1140 “heartless and un-American,” adding that “no qualified parent should be turned away from adoption or foster agencies simply because they are LGBTQ.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery