Currently their is anti-LGBT legislation getting dangerously close to passing in Trump’s America. Thanks to our friends at the ACLU, we broke down the biggest threats in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas. Here’s what you need to know.
1) South Dakota — sweeping, discriminatory bill that harms kids
SB 149 is extraordinarily broad – it grants a broad right for child-placing agencies to discriminate against children and families and deny children needed services based on the agency’s religious or moral beliefs. And it virtually eliminates what the state may do in response. Here are its main effects:
Child-placing agencies have a broad right to refuse to make adoption or foster placements or provide services to children they are being paid by taxpayers to care for, so long as the objection is religiously or morally-based. While an agency still may not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, it can refuse to place based on the child or family’s religion (or lack thereof) or any other religious or moral beliefs, including about sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.
The state would be virtually powerless to do anything in response. A discriminatory agency would still be entitled to state funding and contracts. The state cannot sue or stop the agency from discriminating. As a result, SB 149 would exacerbate the shortage we already have of available families and leave more children to grow up without ever finding a permanent home.
The bill will be heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee next Wednesday, February 15.
2) Oklahoma — a host of bills undermining LGBT rights
Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session will begin on Monday, February 6.
- Senate bill 197 would allow any individuals, privately-held businesses, or a religious organization to refuse — based on religious beliefs about a “marriage, lifestyle, or behavior” — to provide goods, services, accommodations, etc., to promote, endorse, or be used in a marriage ceremony. This would open the door to discriminate against not just same-sex couples and transgender people, but also interfaith couples, or anyone else a business might claim an objection to.
- Senate bill 530 is a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that expands the scope of the existing RFRA so that anyone can sue even private businesses, not just the government, if they believe that their religion is being burdened. This closely resembles the 2015 Indiana RFRA, which resulted in a nationwide outcry from people, companies, and sports teams who rejected using religion to discriminate against vulnerable populations.
- House bill 1507 allows any child-placing agency to refuse performing, counseling, or even referring a child for adoption or foster care placement if the agency has a religious objection. In addition to discrimination against LGBT parents, a child could be denied a home simply because the potential parents are in an interfaith relationship or divorced. This law, if passed, would ensure that an agency that discriminates is still entitled to government contracts and taxpayer funding.
3) Texas — yet another anti-LGBT bill introduced
In addition to Senate Bill 6, a bill resembling North Carolina’s disastrous House Bill 2, and SB 92, which prohibits any locality from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances with broader protections than what is available under state laws, Texas has introduced Senate Bill 651. Under this bill, any licensed professional in Texas — including doctors, social workers, teachers — may use their religious beliefs to discriminate against or refuse to treat someone. For instance, a school social worker may refuse to work with a gay or lesbian young person simply because of the child’s sexual orientation.
Even if they harm a patient, student, or client, these licensed professionals will be able to keep their license and continue practicing unless a state agency shows that enforcing their professional rules is the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling governmental interest. This is a tough standard for the state agency to meet and likely will result in harm to the patients, clients, and students under the care and guidance of licensed professionals throughout the state of Texas.