New SD Law Protects Religious Freedom of Private Child-Placement Agencies

By Nancy Flory Published on March 16, 2017

South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard on Friday signed into law a bill that protects the religious freedom of private child-placement agencies that won’t place children with unmarried or same-sex couples in violation of their beliefs.

Daugaard said that he believed the bill would protect private adoption agencies from lawsuits against policies based on their religious beliefs, reported the Argus Leader.

“I’m worried that a child placement agency may make what is in the best interest of the child a correct decision but be subject to a lawsuit by someone who has a little bit of a leg up by virtue of being in a protective class,” said the governor. “And if we can forestall that with this legislation then I’m willing to do that.”

Bill 149 provides that:

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 that shall be contained in a written policy, statement of faith, or other document adhered to by a child-placement agency.

It forbids the state government from acting against a child placement agency that declines to provide a service that conflicts with its religious or moral convictions. The state also can’t enter into a contract with an agency that conflicts with its convictions.

Without Fear of Being Sued

The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ activist group, claims that “These children could now wait longer to be placed in a safe, loving home at the whim of an [sic] state-funded adoption or foster care agency with a vendetta against LGBTQ couples, mixed-faith couples or interracial couples — all while being taxpayer-funded.” It called Bill 149 the “right to discriminate bill.”

However, SB No. 149, Sec. 15 specifically states that another child-placement agency can provide the services those covered by the bill decline to provide and “shall not be a factor in determining whether a placement in connection with the service is in the best interest of the child.”

Daugaard wants to place as many children as possible and hopes the new law will allow religious and faith-based child-placement agencies to operate without fear of being sued. “Whether it’s the state acting directly or through an agency, we need to do everything we can to encourage those agencies to stay in this business and help us find those placements.”

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  • Autrey Windle

    God be with them.Amen.

  • Charles Burge

    Good for them!

    And to the LGBTQ crowd, I say that we darn well *do* want to discriminate against sub-optimal environments for children. All of the social science we have points to the inescapable conclusion that a child fares best when he or she has a MOTHER and a FATHER who are married to each other, living together with the child, and actively involved in the child’s upbringing. To intentionally deprive a child of that environment is cruel and damaging.

    • Timothy Horton

      When that’s not possible then what is next? According to scientific studies by far the most important thing for a child is to be raised in a loving supportive environment. Same sex couples who adopt can provide that just as well as hetero couples who adopt can, and sometimes even better. The gender of the adults is way down the list of factors that matter.

      • Charles Burge

        It’s substantially more important than leftists are willing to admit. Back in the 70’s when divorce culture was gaining popularity, the conventional wisdom (justification?) was that children need happy parents more than parents who are together, and that they are resilient enough to handle it. Turns out that was complete rubbish, and now millions have grown up without a father figure in their life, leading to a myriad of social ills. This simply cannot be overstated: Children need a mother and a father in their life. I understand that sometimes tragedy strikes (death of a parent, for example), but I stand by my assertion that to *intentionally* deprive a child of the optimal environment is cruel and damaging. Not just to the child, but to society as a whole.

        • Timothy Horton

          Wow. You think it’s better foster kids spend their whole life in an orphanage with no family over being adopted by a loving and supportive same sex couple? What do you think most of the parent-less kids would choose? Nice that you’re willing to throw the orphans under the bus to keep up your “anti-gay at all costs” stance.

          • Charles Burge

            That’s a straw man argument and I think you know it. The law in question says nothing about preventing adoption agencies from placing children with gay couples. It simply says that none of them can be *forced* to do so against their will.

          • Timothy Horton

            Right. It just lets “Christian” agencies refuse to allow perfectly eligible and loving non-hetero couples to adopt based solely on the agencies’ bigotry and prejudices. Showing one again your religion hates same sex couples more than you care about seeing orphaned children find a caring home.

  • Timothy Horton

    Another pro-bigotry, pro-discrimination law. Jesus must be so proud.

    You want the truth about caring for unwanted children? Two of me and my wife’s dearest friends are a gay couple, now both in their 70’s, who have been together over 40 years. Just a couple of gray haired wrinkly little old white men you’d never suspect of being gay except when you catch them sneak in a hand hold when they thought no one was looking. What makes them special is that for over 30 years (until they got too old) they took in foster children. But not just any foster children. They took in the problem kids, the ones the holier-than-thou Christians wouldn’t touch. Crack babies, kids with both parents serving long term jail sentences for drugs, emotionally challenged ones, ones with learning disabilities, ones with physical disabilities. All these men did was provide unconditional love and support for those kids and made a huge difference in the lives of many.

    Think about that the next time you whine that same-sex couples are incapable of being good parents or providing a stable loving environment for children.

    • imamazed

      Sorry Mr. Horton, but we all know and understand your anti-Christian, pro-LGBTQ, pro-trans bias here.. Without exposing the names of the parties involved, there is no way for us to verify the truth of your story any more than you could verify the truth of the story I could tell about the sexual abuse of a young girl at the hands of her lesbian parents only to be rescued by the loving Christian family next door….

      • Timothy Horton

        Fighting against unfair and illegal discrimination is not being Anti-Christian. There are plenty of moral and ethical Christians who believe in and support equal civil rights for all including the non-hetero minority. It’s the homophobic bigots who give the rest a bad name.

        BTW those are two real people who helped many kids exactly as I described. It’s a sad reflection on you all you can do is make a foolish denial.

        • Charles Burge

          No less sad than your assertion: “They took in the problem kids, the ones the holier-than-thou Christians wouldn’t touch”, which is patently false. Thousands of Christians across the country take in children with exactly those problems and more. If you genuinely want to have a serious dialog, maybe a little less inflammatory rhetoric would help.

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