OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill criticized by opponents as discriminatory in the adoption process has cleared the Oklahoma House.
Senate Bill 1140, authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Travis Dunlap, R-Bartlesville, passed the Oklahoma House on Thursday by a 56 to 21 vote. The bill 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.
Some members of the House Democrats took to social media on Thursday, frustrated after multiple failed motions to table the bill and have it heard at a later date. House members, according to Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, did not have the opportunity to ask questions or debate on the measure.
“In my 8 years in the House, I have never seen a bill considered that wasn’t subject to a single question or debate. But Republicans are now attempting to limit all discussion on a bill that would legalize discrimination against LGBTQ families hoping to adopt. Unconscionable.” Rep. Virgin tweeted.
In my 8 years in the House, I have never seen a bill considered that wasn’t subject to a single question or debate. But Republicans are now attempting to limit all discussion on a bill that would legalize discrimination against LGBTQ families hoping to adopt. Unconscionable.
— Emily Virgin (@EmilyVirginOK) May 3, 2018
For months, the organization Freedom Oklahoma has been speaking out against the bill claiming it would discriminate against certain couples looking to adopt. Earlier this week, the Senate rejected a House amendment which would have taken state and federal funding language out of the bill.
Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, told News 4 they were ready to pursue legal action if the bill was signed into law.
“What happened on the floor of the Oklahoma House and Senate today [Thursday] was a disgrace. Leadership of both houses forced an unneeded, unwanted, and un-American bill onto the Governor’s desk. This measure does nothing but keep Oklahoma’s most vulnerable youth out of loving and committed homes. It is our greatest hope that Governor Fallin will show the world that the Oklahoma Standard still exists and that we do not put political posture over the health and safety of Oklahoma’s children. Governor Fallin, please veto this hateful bill.” Stevenson wrote on Facebook.
Hours before it was voted on in the House, the measure passed the Oklahoma Senate by a 33 to 7 vote after similar concerns were discussed and debated. Treat acknowledged the concerns but has repeatedly maintained he did not agree with the bill’s characterization of being discriminatory. Instead, he said the goal of the bill is to get more agencies involved in the adoption process.
“This bill, as well as the last couple months, have caused me to take social media off my phone. It’s been freeing,” Treat said. “What the intent is, is [to] provide some modicum of legal protection for those who wish to participate. Those who wish to take the risk. Those who wish to put their faith into action.”
News 4 emailed Rep. Dunlap for a comment after Thursday’s vote. A request for a comment was not immediately returned.