Joint Statement on SB 149

South Dakota Gives License to Discriminate to Adoption Agencies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 12, 2017

Equality Federation and Equality South Dakota condemn South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for signing into law a discriminatory religious exemption bill that would prevent children in need of homes a fair opportunity to find a loving family.

Fran Hutchins, Deputy Director said, “As someone who was raised in an adoptive family myself, I find it so sad and troubling that any child would be denied a loving family because the agency chose to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents or prospective parents of another faith. Every child should have a loving forever home.”

Lawrence Novotny, chair of Equality South Dakota, is disappointed about the Governor’s decision.  “We view this as another attack against the LGBTQ community of our state,” said Novotny.   “South Dakota does not provide any job discrimination protections and now innocent children needing a loving home will also be affected.”   Novotny said he heard from a couple who is considering adopting that they are now looking at leaving the state.

Both Equality South Dakota and Equality Federation share the value that freedom of religion is important. That’s why it’s already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But freedom of religion should not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others or to deny loving homes to children in foster or government care just because the prospective parents have different religious beliefs than the adoption agency.

Adoption and parenting should focus on creating loving, stable, forever homes for kids, and making sure children have the nurturing environment that allows them to thrive and succeed. Adoption decisions should be made based on the best interests of the child, not based on religious beliefs of child services workers and placement agencies.

This license to discriminate bill would let taxpayer-funded adoption agencies keep kids in foster care or a government group home rather than allowing them to be adopted by loving parents who don’t pass the agency’s religious test. This hurts children and deprives them of the forever homes they so desperately need.

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