Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a law that is being described as the first anti-gay law of 2018. The measure says no adoption or foster agency can be required to place a child in any situations that “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” Although the governor emphasized that the law “does not ban same-sex adoption or foster care in Oklahoma,” it does effectively allow religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate not only against same-sex couples but also single people and non-Christians.
Gay-rights groups have pledged to challenge the law in court. “Make no mistake, we will fight for the most vulnerable Oklahomans targeted by this law. Our message to Gov. Fallin and the lawmakers who championed this travesty is simple: We’ll see you in court!” said the head of Freedom Oklahoma*, Troy Stevenson. Oklahomans for Equality also said in a Facebook post that it is looking into taking legal action against the law.
The law was praised by religious groups, including Oklahoma’s Catholic bishops who said it would pave the way for more adoptions. “The new law will bring more adoption services to the state and allow crucial faith-based agencies to continue their decades-long tradition of caring for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children,” the state’s Catholic bishops said in a statement.
The law is now the first of the “120 anti-LGBT bills pending before state legislatures” to make it into law, notes the Blade. The bill also marks a stark shift for the conservative Oklahoma Legislature that in recent years has been trying to avoid moving forward with bills that discriminate against same-sex couples. But in this case at least the Oklahoma Legislature wasn’t coming up with anything original as several other states have similar laws in place allowing religious organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently challenging a similar law in Michigan.
Correction, May 13, 2018: This piece originally misidentified Troy Stevenson as the head of Family Equality Council. He is the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma.