The Lee Way on Adoption

January 21, 2020

There's never been a more dangerous time to just "skim the headlines." If you're lucky, you'll only get half the story. And in the case of the faith-based adoption debate, not even that! Just ask Tennessee, the latest state to agree that everyone has a right to participate.

NBC News framed it as an "Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill." "Tennessee Lawmakers OK Bill Allowing Adoption Agencies to Deny Gay Couples" was USA Today's take. Others were even more outlandish, insisting Tennessee was actively "Targeting Gay Couples." Obviously, none of these outlets were counting on people reading past the spin to the uncontroversial point of it all -- which is giving religious groups the freedom to keep placing kids as they see fit.

"Don't get confused about what's taking place here..." Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) has warned people in the past about adoption inclusion bills. "This is about children, and this is about putting children with loving families... And we, the faith-based community, were getting excluded."

Fortunately, despite significant pressure (and a major misinformation campaign), Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) agreed and signed the act into law. "I think equality is important and protection of rights is important," including, he explained, religious freedom. "[The] bill was centered around protection of religious liberty," Lee said simply, "and that's why I signed it."

In more and more states, liberals have been giving faith-based agencies a choice: place kids with same-sex couples or shut down. Enter conservatives, who saw the damage this could do to Tennessee -- and children in particular. So, they made it clear that "no licensed adoption agency would be required to participate in a child placement if doing so would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." That doesn't mean that same-sex couples are excluded from the process. Not one sentence of the policy makes it harder for anyone to adopt. The same avenues that were available to them before are available now. The only difference is, faith-based groups won't be forced to be a part of it.

Kelly, one of the biggest champions of religious freedom in adoption and foster care, wants people to know, "This is not a fight that conservatives or the faith-based community started... The Left's faith-shaming cannot be permitted to close the doors of one more adoption or foster care center in our country. For all the parents and providers who have been targeted and bullied by activists both inside and outside of government, [inclusive policies] are a sign of hope."