Since the last election, the political climate has changed to the point that State Senates are not allowing open discrimination by the government at a legal level. Just yesterday, South Dakota lawmakers passed a bill that allows adoption agencies to reject candidates who interfere with their religious beliefs. Clearly, this is the state’s attack on the LGBT+ community, as many prospective parents who go to adoption agencies are LGBT+ couples. Not only will this affect queer- and trans couples, but agencies are now able to refuse divorced individuals, those of a different religious faith, and many other minorities who are seeking parenthood.
This will also have a significant impact on the children waiting for a home and family of their own, as it makes it harder for the estimated two million same-sex couples that are looking into adoption to adopt.
“Let’s be clear. This ‘license to discriminate’ proposal is a direct assault on LGBTQ South Dakotans and their families,” – Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director at Human Rights Campaign
Adoption and care of a foster child create much more good than harm, by providing happiness for both the child and the parents. It also eases the pressure for federal adoption agencies to provide living expenses for each child. Therefore, there is no way this law can be justified because it doesn’t cause any harm to society – rather, it will keep children from finding a permanent and safe home.
It’s not acceptable for anyone to use religion as an excuse to discriminate others, so the intentions of this bill are very wrong and frankly, disgusting to see at such as a high level of decision making. It also blurs the separation of church and state since this bill only affects state-funded adoption agencies and foster care. Religion is supposed to unite us despite our differences not be used as a justification to use the Bible and other religious documents to discriminate. There is no way that this is acceptable under any circumstances, making it difficult to understand how a bill such as this one could pass.
Civil rights are not state issues, especially ones that directly affect the quality of life of so many.
This bill’s passing can be directly tied to recent events. Since the last election, many inhumane laws have been enacted such as the recent roll back trans* protection in schools. Much of the Obama administration’s work has been torn back not only federally, but on a state level as well such as Oklahoma’s new misogynist abortion law. One can trace the open discrimination aspect of all of these bills to the election of ignorance in higher level politics. It is also becoming a snowball effect, as the more this happens, the more it can occur unnoticed. Even at a civilian level, people feel much more free to express their racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc. as can be seen in the rise of hate crimes and hate groups. Although the White House wasn’t directly involved in the passing of this particular discriminatory bill, it could not have passed without the right-wing White House.
With all this in mind, residents of South Dakota and other Americans should unite to raise awareness about this unjust law. Education can help cure nearly all close-mindedness, and bigotry is often a result of a misunderstanding. We need to work hard during this Trump presidency to secure everyone’s basic services and rights because they are under threat all over the country. Together, we can bring awareness to this issue, and fight for it to be repealed, so all children and couples can have a happy future.