As you may have heard, Oklahoma’s state legislature recently passed a bill, SB 1140, that would allow state-funded child-placing agencies to use religion to justify denying children homes and discriminating against prospective parents. This bill allows foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to perform, assist or participate in any child placement in the name of religion. So that means religious child placement agencies could turn away prospective parents who want to provide kids with a loving, stable home because they’re a same-sex couple, interfaith, previously divorced, or the “wrong religion.”
Now, it’s up to Governor Mary Fallin to decide whether to sign or veto this measure. Just like when other states have attempted to pass harmful legislation like SB 1140 that allows religion to be used to discriminate, prominent religious leaders, businesses, advocates, and celebrities are coming out in droves to urge the governor to veto the bill.
In particular, almost 80 Oklahoma faith leaders, congregations, and organizations have written a letter to Fallin asking her to veto the bill. These groups are standing up for real religious freedom in Oklahoma, and they write: “To argue that religious freedom justifies the use of taxpayer dollars to discriminate against children and prospective parents is a distortion of such freedom.” They are also joined by a diverse coalition of 41 national faith-based organizations—including everyone from African American Ministers In Action-Equal Justice Task Force to YATOM: The Jewish Foster & Adoption Network, Muslims for Progressive Values, and the National Coalition of American Nuns.
And here are just a few more of the prominent voices who are speaking out against SB 1140:
Actress Kristin Chenoweth
My beloved Oklahoma. Please no. https://t.co/pHIlJC1VL1— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) May 6, 2018
Pop Star Greyson Chance
Actress Debra Messing
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power
Last month I happily tweeted that none of the 120 anti-LGBT bills intro’d in state legislatures this year had passed. Oklahoma’s #SB1140 broke that streak. So many kids need loving homes. @GovMaryFallin think of them & use your veto https://t.co/eoK9ImBma8— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) May 2, 2018
Actress Alfre Woodard
Actress & Activist Sara Ramirez
Help me urge @GovMaryFallin to veto #SB1140. This dangerous bill would allow publicly funded adoption orgs to discriminate against #LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ families, inter-faith families & others. Young people deserve safe & loving homes not government-sponsored discrimination.— Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) May 8, 2018
Governor Fallin should listen to their voices and veto the bill. Religious freedom guarantees us the right to believe or not as we see fit, but it never includes the right to use your religion to harm or discriminate against others. Oklahoma should put children first—because state-funded agencies should not use religion as a justification to ignore the best interest of a child in need. If you’re from Oklahoma, you can add your voice too. We need you to speak up as soon as you can because the Governor could sign this bill any day now: send an email to Governor Fallin to urge her to veto this disgraceful bill!