Sunday, March 12, 2017

New South Dakota Law Protects Religious Child-Placement Agencies

ACLU reports that on March 10, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard  signed SB 149 (full text) into law.  The new law protects adoption and foster care agencies that act in accordance with religious or moral beliefs in placing children, providing in part:
No child-placement agency may be required to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the child-placement agency.
It also explicitly bars any adverse action by the state against a child placement agency that acts in accordance with its religious or moral principles, except it does not authorize discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.  One of the primary effects of the legislation is to allow agencies to refuse to permit adoptions by same-sex couples.

Dakota Free Press reported on February hearings on the bill in which an ACLU witness pointed out that the bill would allow agencies to exclude adoptions or foster care placements by
not only same-sex couples, but also people who have a different religion [from] the agency, single parents, interfaith couples… families that don’t attend church weekly, service members or gun owners… based on the agency’s moral conviction regarding pacifism, all while children in need of homes languish in foster care and await permanent families. This bill even authorizes agencies to deny a child placement with a close relative and instead place that child with strangers if that relative is of the wrong religion….