Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed a law that says no child-placement agency will be required to put children up for adoption or in foster care in situations that “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
The governor said the law will not restrict the ability of LGBT people from getting a child through adoption or foster care, but critics fiercely disagreed.
Oklahomans for Equality posted a video on Facebook in which officials said they are looking into legal action.
“The idea that bigotry trumps decency is really reprehensible. I am horribly disappointed in Governor Fallin tonight,” Sharon Bishop-Baldwin, vice president of the organization’s board of directors, says in the video.
Fallin, a Republican, said neither adoption or foster care by LGBT individuals or same-sex couples is not banned.
“Instead, the bill will help continue Oklahoma’s successful placement of children with a broad array of loving families and basically maintain the status quo by setting forth in statute practices which have successfully worked for the best interest of Oklahoma children,” Fallin said in a statement.
The governor said the law is similar to one in Virginia that was enacted in 2012.
Faith-based organizations involved in adoption and foster care have closed in other states that don’t have similar laws, she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said LGBT people in the state are “political pawns.”
“SB 1140 is discriminatory, anti-family, anti-children, and anti-First Amendment,” Allie Shinn, external affairs director for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said in a news release. “Rather than stand up to religious fanaticism, the governor has chosen to reinforce the delusions of those who confuse discrimination with liberty.”
Freedom Oklahoma executive director Troy Stevenson said his group will pursue legal action.
He said children who are desperately looking for homes will be harmed and young people will be stigmatized by “state-sanctioned hate.”
“We’ll see you in court,” he said in a statement.
The top officials in the Catholic church in two of Oklahoma’s most populous cities welcomed the new law.
Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, and Most Rev. David Konderla, Bishop of Tulsa, said they were grateful for the governor’s support and they believe nothing changes in the adoption or foster care process with the bill’s signing. And more agencies will be involved, they said.
“The new law will bring more adoption services to the state and allow crucial faith-based agencies to continue their decades-long tradition of caring for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children,” they said in a statement on social media.
The bill passed by mostly party-line votes in the Republican-dominated house (56-21) and senate (33-7).
CNN’s Lindsay Benson contributed to this report.