South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed an anti-LGBTQ bill into law, allowing discrimination against LGBTQ youth and other minorities.
Senate Bill 149 legalizes discrimination from state-funded adoption and foster care agencies against LGBTQ youth in their care and to reject qualified LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s purported religious beliefs.
There are an estimated 1,174 children in the state’s foster care program and now they can be denied a loving home if the prospective parents are LGBTQ.
This bill even discriminates against extended family members, meaning that a loving aunt, uncle, or grandparent can be denied adoption rights if the agency decides their sexual orientation is in conflict with its religious beliefs.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has joined the ACLU in condemning the governor’s actions.
“This is the first anti-LGBTQ bill that any state has signed into law this session. Governor Daugaard’s action not only puts the best interests of the more than a thousand vulnerable children served by South Dakota’s foster care system at risk, it signals the potential of a dark new reality for the fight for LGBTQ rights,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
“These children could now wait longer to be placed in a safe, loving home at the whim of an state-funded adoption or foster care agency with a vendetta against LGBTQ couples, mixed-faith couples or interracial couples — all while being taxpayer-funded. LGBTQ children in South Dakota’s foster care system face the risk of staying in a facility that does not affirm their identity and actively works against the child’s well being by refusing to give them appropriate medical and mental health care.”
“Governor Daugaard’s decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law is deeply disappointing,” said ACLU of South Dakota Policy Director Elizabeth A. Skarin. “Loving, qualified families should not be turned away from adopting a needy child simply because they are LGBT, of a different faith than the agency, or divorced. Even worse, this law directly affects the hundreds of children in South Dakota awaiting their forever families — and those children deserve better from our state leaders.”
South Dakota’s lawmakers are using children as pawns in their deliberate attack on the LGBTQ community. Children in need of loving homes are being denied their rights because of the bigotry of adoption agency executives.
Worse, the state’s taxpayers are being forced to pay for this religious bigotry, regardless of their own personally held beliefs.
Any agency that receives government funding should be nonsectarian in its work, operating as a religious institution while using taxpayer money is unconstitutional.
However, state’s like South Dakota have nothing to fear from the federal government as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a long track record of supporting anti-LGBTQ laws.
Trump’s administration has declared war on the LGBTQ community and now state’s are joining in on the legalized discrimination.
Dan Arel is a bestselling author of The Secular Activist; and Parenting Without God. He is an award-winning journalist and host of the Danthropology Podcast.