OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill that opponents say would allow religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, single people and non-Christians has cleared the Oklahoma Senate.
Senate Bill 1140 passed 35-9 Tuesday and now heads to the House.
The bill would cover child-placing agencies that block adoptive parents who do not meet the agencies' religious or moral standards.
Republican Sen. Greg Treat sponsored the bill and said it would protect that practice from potential lawsuits.
"This doesn’t eliminate anyone that can currently participate, all it does is it opens it up for others to participate and protects those that may have a faith-based group to continue to participate," said Treat.
Gay rights advocates say the measure is unnecessary and would keep children from loving homes. The group Freedom Oklahoma launched a campaign Monday to kill the bill.
"Essentiallly, if this bill passes, adoption agencies could decide whether or not to adopt out, or foster out, to LGBT people, to single people, to members of minority faiths, this is a bill that hurts children and discriminates along the way," said Allie Shinn of ACLU Oklahoma. "You absolutely have the right to your own deeply held religious beliefs, you do not have the right to use your deeply held religious beliefs as a weapon to discriminate and that’s exactly what Senate bill 1140 would do."
Similar laws have been passed in at least seven other states, including Alabama, South Dakota and Texas last year. A bill with similar language has been introduced in U.S. Congress.