Photo courtesy of Tony Webster / Flickr
In February, a bill was introduced in the Tennessee House by State Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Rutherford County, that would allow private adoption and foster care agencies to deny service to anyone who would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”
The bill doesn’t explicitly say so, but many have regarded the legislation as an “anti-LGBT+” adoption bill. Since this bill’s introduction, it has been surrounded by controversy across the state.
Many LGBT+ activists and organizations have been speaking out against this bill and others that have been introduced in recent months in Tennessee, such as the anti-gay marriage bill and the indecent exposure bathroom bill that appears to be targeting transgender individuals. Even Taylor Swift has shown her support by donating $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project earlier in April. For any LGBT+ members that are wishing to adopt, they can do so from agencies in other states, for example, Adoption Alliance is a San Antonio adoption agency that could be of service for LGBT+ families.
On campus, MTSU students are speaking out against the legislation as well.
Sophomore Miura Rempis has openly identified as bisexual for the last six years. She believes that the bill would not only be unfair to LGBT+ couples who would normally be able to adopt otherwise but also to children waiting to be adopted or fostered.
“I believe that two parents are better than none, regardless of who those two are … The passage of this bill will mean death or homelessness to children across the state of Tennessee,” she said. “This bill is absolutely an attack on the LGBT community, and it’s parading under the false pretense of conserving the ‘sanctity of family.'”
MTSU recording industry management major Rachel Lingerfelt agrees that agencies should be allowed to protect kids but doesn’t think that the bill will end up being used for just that.
“I definitely believe private agencies, as private institutions, have rights to protect children from unsafe environments by whatever means and morals they uphold, but an LGBT couple looking to adopt does not guarantee a situation in which a child would be mistreated or not loved,” she said.
Lingerfelt also expressed concern with her own future regarding adopting.
“Adoption and foster care are really close to my heart, as is the wellbeing of children. My girlfriend and I have discussed at length what our options are for the future, and we would like to experience adoption as well as birth through IVF, IUI or embryo adoption,” Lingerfelt said. “Every process, for us, will be more complicated than it is for many couples, and we wish people who supported this bill knew that LGBT couples like us yearn for family the same way they do.”
She added that if the bill goes through and is used to discriminate against members of the LGBT+ community, it won’t stop couples looking to start a family.
“This bill and others similar to it that have been proposed in the past really trouble me,” Lingerfelt said. “(However), adding more roadblocks will not stop LGBT couples from creating families. It will just change how we interact with the state, whether that be moving or steering clear of agencies that do not support same-sex couples.”
The bill was passed on first consideration in the House on April 4, 2019. The next step is for the legislation to move through the Senate where it will have to go through several committees before being decided on.