It is now legal in Tennessee for taxpayer-funded child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, to discriminate against same-sex couples and others—including the single, divorced, interfaith couples—based on “religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The state’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed HB 836 into law Friday. It is the first piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation to become law in 2020 in the United States. “It’s disturbing that Governor Bill Lee signed legislation that will harm children in Tennessee,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. “Elected officials should protect all of their constituents, not just some. Now, Tennessee has the shameful distinction of being the first state to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill into law this year.
“This bill does nothing to improve the outcomes for children in care, shrinks the pool of prospective parents and is a blatant attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans. With many months ahead in the Tennessee legislative session, Tennesseans should make their voices heard—loudly—to ensure that the legislature and Gov. Lee do not continue to target LGBTQ Tennesseans.”
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said: “LGBTQ Southerners have been working hard to create change and share their stories for years…The steps forward we’ve seen are ultimately more powerful than any single discriminatory law because they signal a rising tide toward justice for LGBTQ Southerners. We must do everything we can to sustain the conversation about LGBTQ equality across the South and achieve our vision of a South where everyone can thrive.”