LGBTQ Community Takes Aim At Controversial Bill In OK

Friday, February 19th 2016, 5:45 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The LGBTQ Community is taking aim at a controversial bill that they say would legalize discrimination.

Tamera Maresh-Carver has already adopted her wife’s son, and the family is looking to expand.  But they’re afraid a bill working its way through the legislature would hamper that.

“It seems like a lot of times with things like this we just get in our way,” Maresh-Carver said, “There’s already a rigorous screening process in place to adopt a child.”

House Bill 2428 would require the state to work with child welfare groups and adoption agencies that turn people away for moral or religious reasons.  According to author Sally Kerns, under the bill, “The Department of Human Services cannot discriminate against a child provider or foster care if that provider has some sincerely held religious beliefs.”

But LGBTQ groups don’t see it that way.  They see the bill more as a license to discriminate. 

“The point of the bill is to allow adoption and foster care providers to discriminate based on personal bias under the guise of religious freedom,” said Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma.

Kern said that’s not the case. “Right now our state allows the gay community to adopt and enter into foster care agreements. This doesn’t alter that at all.” 

Besides, Kern insists, the bill would help more children get placed. “It will ensure that the pool I guess you could say, of people who DHS can contract with is the widest possible that we can have more adoptions and foster care taken care of.”

The bill has passed in committee by a 5-to-2 party line vote.