Oklahoma Senate rejects House amendment on controversial adoption bill

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate has rejected a House amendment to a bill opponents claim would discriminate in the child adoption process.

Senate Bill 1140 states child-placing agencies do not need to place a child or provide related services, if doing so would violate the agency's religious or moral beliefs. It is authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

"I believe 1140… it, in my opinion, expands the eligible pool of participants in providing adoption and foster care services," Treat said. "It does not restrict same-sex couples from adopting."

The Senate rejected the House amendment Monday, taking federal and state funds out of the bill's language. Had the amendment been kept, Freedom Oklahoma executive director Troy Stevenson said it would prevent funding to religious organizations or people "actively discriminating."

"I think it’s tragic that it happened. I think it’s regrettable that it happened," Stevenson said. "They’re violating the law already. This just brings a higher level to it."

Stevenson said, if the bill passes and Governor Mary Fallin does not veto it, they are prepared to seek legal action. They're working with attorneys, including Sandy Coats.

"It will cost the state of Oklahoma business revenue," Stevenson said, speaking on the possible litigation. "We’ve already heard from folks like Amazon, from the state chamber, from corporations across the country that are not interested in relocating or expanding their operations in a state that actively discriminates."

Treat said he disagrees with the characterization of the bill.

"It doesn’t do anything to prohibit that or to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting," Treat said. "All it does is protect faith-based institutions who wish to participate, and some are sitting on the sideline right now and I hope to get them involved to help us take care of the huge need."

As for the questions concerning the bill's constitutionality, he said "I have a lot of respect for Sandy Coats and his history, but I also have attorneys I have respect for that have the exact contrary position."

According to a spokesperson for House speaker Charles McCall, the bill now goes to a House conference committee after Monday's rejection from the Senate.