Unequal: Bill makes prejudice against LGBTQ legal for adoption agencies

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Bill moves to calendar committee, full House of Representatives

Two days after dozens of religious leaders publicly opposed a bill that would promote discrimination against LGBTQ Tennesseans, Republican lawmakers moved the bill closer to law.

Under House Bill 836, private child-placing agencies could deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

The bill—sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33—passed the House Judiciary Committee on 16-8 vote. The bill moves next to the calendar and rules committee, where it will be scheduled for a vote in the full House of Representatives.

The Tennessee Equality Project, which organized people of faith to speak out against the bill and others that single out LGBTQ people, said the legislation is squarely aimed at denying adoptions to LGBTQ Tennesseans. The statement read:

“As leaders of faith communities we oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly. They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state.”

There are more than 8,000 children in the care of the Department of Children Services. The department works with a network of adoption agencies to find foster care and permanent homes for the children in state custody. Under the rules of the bill, DCS could not deny an agency’s license or service contract for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ families. 

How they voted:
Representatives voting for the bill:
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6

Representatives opposing the bill were:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77 
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84