This January, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill allowing adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples. The law prevents the state from barring agencies from receiving public funds for refusing to place a child with a family based on religious reasons. Advocacy groups and critics of the legislation believe the law unfairly targets the LGBTQ community.
Senate Bill 1304 passed on the first day of legislative session in January. Said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, “We thought we had more time this session. I am surprised and upset that that is the first bill that the Tennessee Senate took up this legislative session, especially when you look at the issues that this state is facing.”
The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, also made a statement on the law, promising legal action. She told USA Today, “This law is clearly discriminatory. As long as the LGBTQ community continues to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we will turn to the courts for recourse. We anticipate that litigation around discrimination focused on adoption will continue to unfold, and the Tennessee law signed today will be part of that conversation.”
Let us help you build your family
Although this legislation might feel like a step backward for same-sex families looking to adopt, it is certainly not the end of the road. Current adoption practices will likely not change, as many faith-based agencies already barred same-sex couples from adopting. This new law now gives them the legal protections to continue doing so.
Tennessee still gives prospective parents the right to petition to adopt a child – no matter who those parents are, as long as they can provide for the child. According to the Family Equality Council, there are 1,968 same-sex couples raising an estimated 3,936 children in the state of Tennessee. And, under state law, any married couple can jointly petition to adopt a child, and any married person can petition to adopt the child of their spouse under a stepparent adoption. Marriage equality provides these rights for same-sex couples.
There are a variety of options for LGBTQ adoption in Maryville and throughout Tennessee. These include:
To file a petition to adopt, you must be 18 years old or older and a resident of Tennessee for at least six months. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, divorced, married, gay, or straight – your adoption agency only wants to know that you are capable of providing a loving and stable home.
Our attorneys are keeping a close and concerned eye on SB 1304 and how it might affect your rights as a prospective parent. If you have any questions or worries, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer.
At Shepherd & Long, P.C., our Maryville family law and adoption attorneys provide compassionate representation. Call our East Tennessee office at 865-982-8060 or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation today.