( New York, May 11, 2018 ) — Today, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed SB 1140, a license-to-discriminate bill that would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to reject foster or adoptive parents based upon the agency's religious beliefs. A similar bill, SB 284, sits on the desk of Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer awaiting signature.
Currey Cook, Counsel and Director, Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:
"With the stroke of a pen, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin earns the dubious honor of becoming the first governor in 2018 to write anti-LGBT discrimination into law and withhold loving homes from Oklahoma children. We will work hard to ensure other governors will think twice before adding their names to this roll of heartlessness and cruelty.
"There are children in the Oklahoma child welfare system in desperate need of loving families. And there are loving and qualified LGBT individuals and couples in Oklahoma who want nothing more than to give those children the warm, caring and safe environment they deserve. SB 1140, much like SB 284 in Kansas, works to withhold those families from those children. It gives special permission to religiously-affiliated government-funded child welfare agencies to place the agencies' beliefs above the needs and best interests of children in care and discriminate against parents who are trying to provide a loving home.
"We hope that other governors, most immediately Kansas Gov. Colyer, will not follow Oklahoma's example and will put the needs of the child first. To deny qualified parents eager to foster or adopt children in need of loving homes because of their sexual orientation or gender-identity or particular religious belief is not only wrong, but impacts the most vulnerable the most."
Lambda Legal asks any youth or adults who have experienced discrimination in Oklahoma's or Kansas's child welfare systems to call our Help Desk at 212.809.8585 or complete this online form http://www.lambdalegal.org/help/form.
Read more about Lambda Legal's work with children in out-of-home care here: www.lambdalegal.org/ issues/youth-in-out-of-home-care .