A new Oklahoma law will let child welfare providers deny services to prospective same-sex parents.

Governor Mary Fallin signed SB 1140 on Friday, legally allowing adoption and foster care placement agencies to refuse families based on religion, Oklahoma’s News 4 reports.

“Today, I signed Senate Bill 1140, which allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs,” Fallin tweeted.

Getty Images

In a longer statement, Fallin insists SB 1140 will not restrict LGBT individuals or couples from adopting or fostering.

“It does not ban same-sex adoption or foster care in Oklahoma,” she writes. “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.”

“In a day and time when diversity is becoming a core value to society because it will lead to more options, we should recognize its value for serving Oklahoma also because it leads to more options for loving homes to serve Oklahoma children.”

As we reported last month, SB 1140, which passed the House of Representatives by a large 60-25 margin, protects agencies that don’t receive government funding from being forced to place children with adoptive or foster parents who “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” It also shields such agencies from any sanctions for their discrimination.

While it could also be used to deny single mothers and interfaith couples, critics insist SB 1140 specificaly targets same-sex couples. “If you didn’t intend to discriminate against same-sex couples with this bill, why did you run it?” asked Rep. Forrest Bennett, (D-Oklahoma City).

“Plain and simple, Governor Fallin and Oklahoma Republicans are discriminating against LGBTQ parents,” says DNC LGBTQ media director Lucas Acosta in a statement. “Rather than focusing on empowering families or uniting children with loving parents, Governor Fallin and Oklahoma Republicans want to strip qualified potential parents of their ability to provide for a child in need.”

Getty Images

Acosta argues that with more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, including more than 16,000 in Oklahoma, the state’s legislature “should be focusing on how it can attract more qualified and loving parents to the system—not rejecting potential homes based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of the parents.”

“While we are deeply disappointed that Governor Fallin chose to sign discrimination into law, we are more concerned about the children—desperately looking for homes—that will be harmed by this disgraceful legislation and the countless young people who will be stigmatized by state-sanctioned hate,” says Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “Make no mistake, we will fight for the most vulnerable Oklahomans targeted by this law and, if necessary, we will do so in a court of law.”

Similar discriminatory legislation has been passed or is under consideration in Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, Alabama, Kansas, Georgia, and Texas.

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.