Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) yesterday signed the bill, SB 149, which states, “No child-placement agency may be required to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the child-placement agency,” and requires that the state not take “adverse action” against any agency that does so discriminate, even if they are receiving public funds or tax benefits.
Let’s also take a moment to criticize the Associated Press (which usually does a pretty good job on LGBTQ topics), whose report on the bill begins: “South Dakota joined three other states Friday that have enacted laws giving broad legal protections to faith-based organizations that refuse based on their religious beliefs to place children in certain households.”
Nope. Let’s call it what it is: A license to discriminate.
As Libby Skarin, Policy Director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said in a statement:
In the end, this bill was never about religious freedom. It has always been about allowing private organizations that discriminate to receive state contracts and taxpayer dollars to carry out their religions missions. We’re particularly concerned about how this bill could impact vulnerable kids in our foster care system that deserve to have their best interests considered above the desires of private agencies.
The ACLU asks that anyone who is negatively impacted by this law to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-332-2508.
Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia already have similar laws in place; Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma are considering them.