COLUMBIA, S.C. — Legislation recently, and quietly, passed in South Carolina allows adoption agencies to reject prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs.
LGBTQ and equality groups confirmed to NBC Charlotte they are assembling legal teams to file a discrimination lawsuit against the state. Others argued the proviso is a win for religious freedom.
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Clamp and his husband Taylor adopted their son Walker last year.
“He’s so amazing; he’s brought so much joy to my life and our lives our family’s life,” Taylor said.
However, a proviso included in the South Carolina state budget allows adoption agencies to refuse to “provide any service under circumstances that conflict with, a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the agency.”
“It allows them to discriminate against not only the LGBTQ community, but it could be a single mother it could be an interracial couple,” said Jennifer Tague with SC Equality, a nonprofit that plans to fight the proviso. “We have perspective plaintiffs ready to file suit if this is not overturned during the summer.”
York County Representative Gary Simrill is on the Ways and Means committee that inserted the line into the budget.
He said they added it because the Department of Social Services (DSS) was trying to sever ties with some faith-based adoption agencies that turn away prospective parents based on religion. The new proviso makes it legal for those agencies to do just that, so now the DSS cannot refuse to work with them.
Supporters said the proviso is a win for religious freedom. Others worried it could be yet another roadblock for families like the Clamps who want to adopt.
“In this day and age, not everyone conforms to the 1950s 1960s mentality of an ideal or perfect family,” Corey said. “I just don’t think it’s fair for anybody to use their own personal beliefs or religious beliefs to potentially make things even more difficult for these foster care kids.”