A newly signed law in Tennessee grants more freedom of religion to adoption agencies, allowing them to opt out of placing children in homes that are not in accordance with “the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The move comes after the Trump administration proposed a new rule in November that would let religiously based foster care and adoption agencies continue to receive federal money even if they turn away same-sex couples on the basis of the agencies’ religious beliefs.
The governor of Tennessee signed the law on Jan. 24.
The measure was widely condemned by members of the LGBTQ community for protecting agencies that do not accept foster care or adoption applications from same-sex households.
The law also bars the state from withholding licenses or grants for public funding from agencies on the grounds that they have religious objections to putting children in certain homes.
“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty,” said Gillum Ferguson, a spokesman for Gov. Bill Lee, to the Tennessean. “This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”
The bill passed in the Tennessee Senate on Jan. 14 with a 20-6 vote. State Sen. Steve Dickerson was the only Republican to vote against it, according to The Hill. Five more GOP senators abstained. The measure, HB 836, was OK’d by the state House in April.